Category Archives: Fiction

The Fear Index

fear index

Title: The Fear Index

Author:  Robert Harris

Publisher: Knopf, 2012

Summary/Review: If you like to read about the stock market,financial markets worldwide, and are concerned about the gyrations in the markets caused by computers using mathematical formulas for lightning fast trades (Remember the flash crash?) then this work of fiction is for you.

Dr. Alex Hoffmann, the main character, is a mathematical genius and is obsessed with artificial intelligence.  When he is unable to continue his work at CERN(due to a mental breakdown), he turned to the development of  a form of artificial intelligence, VIXAL, that utilizes a set of algorithms to buy and sell financial instruments based on what in reality is known as the VIX or volatility index, otherwise known as “the fear index”. The computers monitor events worldwide, and when the sense “fear” they will buy or sell — depending on the situation. Dr. Hoffmann and his hedge fund company become ultra-rich and everyone is very happy with the working of VIXAL–  until events start to go terribly wrong – starting with an intruder at Hoffmann’s home.

At the beginning of each chapter there is a quotation from Charles Darwin’s Origen of the Species– a work about evolution and natural selection.  At first you may not make the connection between the twists and turns of the plot and the quotation, but as you near the end of the book you realize WHAT has been evolving right under the nose of Dr. Hoffmann.

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

Who will like this?: Those who are interested in Artificial Intelligence and its impact on human life.  Those who are looking for a thriller with lots of twists and turns.

If you like this, try this:  If you liked Robert Harris’ writing, he has a number of other books such as “The Ghost” and “Lustrum”.   If the topic of Artificial Intelligence interests you, try the classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur Clarke or “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov.

If you are trying to break into the science fiction genre, try the classic “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card or “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.  More recent science fiction includes the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth.

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

Canada

canada

Title: Canada

Author: Richard Ford

Publisher: Ecco , May 2012

Summary/Review:  Dell (the narrator) and Berner Parsons are ordinary fifteen year old twins living a somewhat isolated life with their parents in Montana circa 1956.  Their father has failed at a number of ventures in his life but has oddly always envisioned himself as a successful bank robber.   So being a little short on money, he decides to carry out a plan and takes their mother along as his accomplice.  They are undetected for a little while, but one day the police finally come and take the parents away to jail, leaving the brother and sister to fend for themselves.  Mrs. Parsons, fearing they would be caught had arranged for a friend to look after the kids, but by the time she shows up, Berner has left for California on her own.  So she drives Dell to Canada to be taken in by her brother.  The brother turns out to be not at all what he first appears to be and when the reasons he is in Canada become evident it provides a twist in the story. Amazingly, Dell never assigns blame or feels anger and continues to believe that both his parents, though misguided, did truly love him and his sister. What happens in this novel is very unpredictable and leaves you wanting to read more to see what finally happens.  There is some foreshadowing as Dell alludes to events which he has not yet related, but you don’t see how can occur until they unfold. The themes of crossing all sorts of boundaries and the force and effect of corrupt acts make this a thought provoking and absorbing read.

Who will like this book:  Someone who likes thought provoking fiction.

Recommended by:  Jan,  Administration

If you would like to see if this book is available or place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog [Link will open in a new window]

Harold Fry

harold fry

Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Review/Summary: Harold Frye, recently retired, lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. They have settled into a mundane existence. Then one morning he receives a letter from an old friend who is dying. When he composes a reply letter and goes to post it, he becomes convinced that he must hand deliver it. Thus, begins his quest as he takes off in his tennis shoes to walk 600 miles, because he believes Queenie will live, as long as he walks. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another. Memories flood him of his wedding day, fatherhood and regrets and losses. Maureen reminisces too and finds herself missing him. This funny, poignant, charming story about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey will move and inspire you.There also mysteries that will be solved about his friend and son. Fans of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand will embrace another hero in Harold Frye.

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Librarian

Who will like this? Someone who recognizes that sometimes heroes come from the most unlikely of places.  Anyone looking for a story about second – or maybe even last – chances.

If you like this, try this: “The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson is also about last chances, and what we do with them.  You may also enjoy “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson.

This is playwright Rachel Joyce’s first novel, but was named as an Amazon “top book of the month”, so be on the lookout for more from her!

If you would like to see if this book is available, please visit our Fairfield Public Library catalog [Link will open in a new window]

Light Between Oceans

light between oceans

Title: Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman

Publisher: Scribner, July 2012

Summary/Review: After surviving four years of war on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a position as lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Although the island is completely isolated, a half-day’s journey from the coast, Tom begins to find peace after years at war. On his first shore leave he meets Isabel, a bold young woman full of life and joy. As the two fall in love and she agrees to marry him they both envision a life of beauty and adventure in the lighthouse. Years later, after the hardship of living in isolation and after repeated miscarriages and a still birth Isabel is no longer the joyful woman Tom married. Then one day a boat washes to shore carrying a dead man and a living baby, and Tom and Isabel make a decision that will carry repercussions for years to come. In their years of isolation and hardship they’ve lost sight of the lives they effect on the mainland.

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The story is rich with emotions and you will feel yourself getting pulled in to their story. Would you make the same decisions? And once made would you stick to them no matter what? Tom is torn between what he knows is right and wanting to make Isabel happy after her years of heartbreak. Most stories have a clear picture of right and wrong and the characters you are pulling for. Although there is heartbreak in this story the resolution is honest and real.

Who will like this book? Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is just looking for the best book written this year.

 If you like this, try this: If you were pulled in by the intense plot, “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey deals with a couple facing a very similar issue. If you were more drawn to the writing, this is M.L. Stedman’s debut but keep an eye out for more from her in the future!

Recommended by: Linda, Circulation Assistant

If this looks like a book you would like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available or place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

Schroder

schroder

Title: Schroder

Author: By Amity Gaige

Publisher: Grand Central, 2013

Summary/Review: Erik Schroder is writing a letter to his estranged wife. It is an apology and an explanation as to why he felt compelled to kidnap their daughter. Writing from the correctional facility from which he awaits trial, Erik recounts his life and the choices he’s made that have brought him to this point.

Soon after fleeing East Germany with his father, a young Erik made his first mistake, the ramifications of which were not fully realized until several years later. This lie, his invention of a new name and life history on a summer camp application seemed harmless enough at the time. Out of desperation to leave his German roots and Boston home behind him, Erik Schroder becomes Eric Kennedy. It is as Eric Kennedy, not Erik Schroder that he attends summer camp, goes off to college, falls in love and gets married. It is as Eric Kennedy that he kidnaps his daughter, but it is as Erik Schroder that he now sits in jail.

This is a moving and thought provoking novel that will demand discussion, making it a great choice for book groups. The moral and ethical issues that arise, as well as who may be Erik’s most sympathetic victim, are all fodder for a lively conversation.

Who will like this?: Someone who’s looking for a book that will cause a lively discussion.

If you like this, try this: “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock touches on this subject, though in a very dark way. “Room” by Emma Donoghue shows an alternative viewpoint, of the kidnapped rather than the one kidnapping.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available, or to place a hold on it! [Link will open in a new window]

Forgotten

forgotten

Title: Forgotten: A Novel

Author: Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: William Morrow, An imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2012

Summary/Review: Emma Tupper’s mother passed away and leaves her a round trip ticket to Africa. Emma promised her dying mother that she would take the trip and not return for one month. However, Emma is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future at a big city law firm. Taking this trip means she will have to forfeit her partnership with the firm. When Emma’s boyfriend Craig offers to go with her on the trip, she tells him she wants to do this by herself so she can think about where her life is headed.

Emma becomes ill while on the tour in Africa. She is transported to a medical center to be cared for. While she is recovering, a massive earthquake occurs in Africa which leaves them without communication and transportation for several months. Because Emma’s illness was never reported to her tour guide company, her last known location was in the city of the earthquake, therefore, she was presumed dead.

Six months later, Emma returns home to London. She soon realizes that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead, and that her life has moved on without her. She has no money, no job and no place to live. Read about Emma’s struggles to get her old life back and follow her on her most important journey of self-discovery. This book does not have a predictable ending. The question is….if you had a chance to start over, would you take it?

Who will like this book: Those who like fast-paced contemporary novels.

If you like this, try this: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. Catherine Mackenzie also writes a number of other novels if you are a fan of the writing style.

Recommended by: Beverly, Circulation

If you would like to check if this book is available or place a hold, visit the Fairfield  Public Library catalog [Link will open in a new window]

After the Fall Before the Fall During the Fall

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TitleAfter the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

Author: Nancy Kress

Publisher: Tachyon, April 2012

Summary/Review: In 2035, the Earth as we know it is no more. An alien attack by the mysterious ‘Tesslies’ has devastated the planet, transforming it into a poisoned wasteland.  A small band of humans have been culled to survive in The Shell, a futuristic shelter installed on the Earth’s damaged surface by the aliens. Damaged by radiation, the survivors are desperate to reproduce, thrive and restart the human race. In 2013, a brilliant statistician working for the FBI is trying to connect the dots between seemingly random kidnappings of young children and bizarre robberies occurring all over the East coast. All the cases, witnesses insist, end in a bright flash of light and the disappearance of the assailant and whatever they were taking. And in 2014, an undetected bacterium is slowly attacking plant life all over the planet.

Nancy Kress is an award-winning science fiction force and this book is a great introduction to her work. Told in the voices of Julie, the FBI analyst and Pete, a teenager born in the Shell, After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall weaves together three separate timelines that tell the story of the end of the world as we knew it.

Who will like this book? This short novel is a great choice for fans of dystopian fiction and ecological non-fiction. It is suitable for both adults and older teen readers. And with a surprising twist at the end, it’s not as bleak as it sounds.

If you like this, try this: “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman. “Eternity Road” by Jack McDevitt. “Life as We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

If you think you would like this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!  [Link will open in a new window]

The Next Thing on my List

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Title: The Next Thing on My List

Author: Jill Smolinski

Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books, Inc. 2007

Review/Summary: If you are looking for light-read with a good story, look no further than The Next Thing on My List.

Meet June Parker, single, in her mid-thirties, and the driver of the car that killed her passenger Marissa Jones. After the accident June discovers a list that Marissa made titled “20 Things to Do by My 25th Birthday”. In trying to figure out her own life, June decides to complete Melissa’s list for her. Some articles on the list, such as “go on a blind date” and “try boogie boarding” turn out to be total adventures. Other items, such as “run a 5K” and “pitch an idea at work” require more time and commitment. One of the most difficult challenges on the list is “change someone’s life”. As June becomes consumed with trying to change one life, she ends up changing several lives, including her own.

All in all, life shouldn’t be taken for granted. And yes, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort-zone to make something happen. This book is both inspirational and funny with characters you can relate to. After you finish reading it, you will want to start your own list.

Who will like this: Someone looking for a fun but thought provoking book.  Someone interested in starting their own list!

If you like this, try this:  If you’re into chick-lit, try anything by Elin Hilderbrand, who is known for her portrayal of women without being too fluffy,  or “Bright Side of Disaster” by Katherine Center, a funny and light-hearted but still fulfilling book about love and losing it.  If you like Jane Smolinski’s writing style, she has a number of other books both fiction and non-fiction.

If you’re interested in starting your own bucket list, there are a number of books out there about that on every subject- including a bucket list of books to read!

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Assistant

If you think you’d like to read this, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check if it’s available and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

The Dog Stars

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Title: The Dog Stars

Author: Peter Heller

Publisher: Knopf, August 2012

Summary/Review: After a pandemic kills 99% of the population, a survivor tries to find some hope for the future.

Hig, along with his dog Jasper and fellow survivor Bangley, is living on a fortified compound in Colorado after a flu pandemic. Their safety is precarious and hinges on Hig’s piloting his 1956 Cessna to scout their area from the air, and Bangley’s uninhibited penchant for killing intruders. Though Bangley seems content with their situation, Hig can’t forget a radio transmission he heard 3 years ago coming from Grand Junction, and the hope that came with it. Hig must decide between his commitment to Bangley and the search for a better existence.

Powerful and beautifully written, Heller’s debut novel not only illustrates the horror and isolation that come with the near-annihilation of mankind, but the new bonds that are forged and the humanism that remains.

Who will like this book: Someone who is sick of reading zombie-pocalypse books and is looking for something a little deeper and more focused on human psychology. Fans of dystopias who are looking for something new.

If you like this, try this: If you would like to read more books about the apocalypse that aren’t centered around zombies, try “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson (the movie remake stars Will Smith). “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (also made into a movie) is centered around global climate change. Both show the bonds humans form with either one another or the living things around them in hopes of survival. “The Pesthouse” by Jim Crace is more focused on the dark side of humanity and what people can do to out-survive one another- including slavery, thievery, and murder.

This is Peter Heller’s debut, so be on the lookout for more from this author- who is featured on Amazon and shares a picture of the real-life inspiration for Jasper!

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you would like to see if this book is available or place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog! [Link will open in a new window]

Defending Jacob

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Title: Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay

Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2012

Summary/Review: Andy Barber has been a well-respected assistant district attorney in Massachusetts for many years until his 14-year-old son Jacob is accused of killing former classmate Ben Rifkin. As the community presumes Jacob’s guilt before the trial starts, Andy and his wife, Laurie, struggle internally and externally to maintain their son’s innocence. Even after evidence points toward his son, Andy sticks to his belief that the neighborhood pedophile is responsible for this murder.

As the story unfolds, it brings up many questions, such as how well do parents know their own child, how far would they go to protect him, what role do genes and family history play in influencing an individual’s destiny, and do childhood actions indicate future behavior?

Defending Jacob is a compelling novel with a shocking ending. Once you start it, you can’t put it down.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is interested in crime dramas but who is more interested in the psychology of crimes and the criminal mind.  Someone who is interested in
family bonds and how far someone will go to protect them.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re interested in novels about the criminal mind, try “Hannibal” or “Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris, which both focus on the question of mental insanity.  If you would like a newer novel that focuses on criminal minds, try any Chelsea Cain book.

If you are more interested in the suspense/thriller aspect, try Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” or the popular Stieg Larsson novels.  Michael Connelly and John Grisham are also well-known for their legal thrillers.

If you’re interested in this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check availability and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

Finally, this isn’t William Landay’s first book- his historical novel is focused on the Boston Strangler, entitled “the Strangler”, and he also writes other fiction such as “Mission Flats”.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Assistant