Category Archives: Fiction

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

Age of Miracles

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Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Summary/Review: Julia is only eleven years old when the earth’s rotation begins to slow. “The Slowing” as it comes to be called, adds minutes to the days and nights. Scientists have no idea why it is happening or when it will end. Though fear creeps into the lives of people around the world, most adopt a “wait and see” attitude and try to adjust.

As the days grow from 24 to 26 to 30 hours long and longer, the slowing starts to take its toll. Gravity and the earth’s magnetic field are altered, wreaking havoc on wildlife and the food supply. Birds can no longer fly, ocean mammals can no longer navigate, and vegetation can no longer survive the long hot days and the long cold nights. People begin to suffer from gravity sickness and radiation poisoning and still the earth continues to slow. The title of this novel refers to the middle school years when bodies are changing and the adult you will become starts to emerge. For Julia, this “age of miracles”, with its typical dramas and hardships, comes with the additional stress of an uncertain future. Relationships are dissolving and people are taking more risks and making questionable decisions. It’s clear that life will never again be the same.

Though this may seem like a science fiction novel, the emphasis is clearly on the effect that the threat of extinction has on human relationships. Some relationships will become stronger and others will wither and die under the pressure of a crumbling future. “The Age of Miracles” is a wonderful debut novel; more than just a coming-of-age story but a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Who will like this? Adults and teens looking for a moving story with unforgettable characters.

If you like this, try this: If you like the theme of nature-driven dystopias, try “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy or “After the Snow” by S.D. Crockett. For dystopias in general, try the wildly popular “The Hunger Games” series (Suzanne Collins), “Never Let You go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, or “Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. For younger ones, “the Giver” is an excellent place to start.

If you’re more attracted to the teenage drama, try “Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, or “Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger’s classic.If you like the author’s voice, keep an eye out for more books coming soon, since this is Karen Thompson Walker’s debut.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

To check if this book is available and/or to place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog [link will open in a new window]

Don’t Ever Get Old

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Title: Don’t Ever Get Old

Author: Daniel Friedman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, 2012

Summary/Review: “Old age is not for sissies”, “Old age isn’t so bad – when you consider the alternative”, (and the more optimistic) “every day I wake up on this side of the grass is a good one.” Aging is inevitable, and if you hit eighty seven with the sharp mind and wit of Baruch “Buck” Schatz, you’re doing fine.

Don’t Ever Get Old is Daniel Freedman’s debut novel about the cigarette smoking, gun toting, wickedly funny former police officer, Buck Schatz, who finds himself drawn into the hunt for a former Nazi war criminal and a fortune in gold. Buck is assisted by his grandson, Tequila, who has a lot to learn from his caustic grandfather. It’s easy to see the tough guy, take no prisoners cop that Buck used to be as he stalks his prey with the help of his more technologically savvy grandson, but Friedman never lets you forget that Buck is closing in on ninety and is facing the serious health and independence issues that old age brings. Rose, his wife of many years, is slowing down and there is the great fear that he will no longer be able to care for her at home. The issues that come with aging are never trivialized yet you know that Buck will definitely not be “going gentle into that good night.”

It would be great to see a Buck Schatz series, though given his age it might be a short one.

Who Will Like This: Anyone who likes a fast paced thriller, no matter how old the protaganist.

If you like this, Try this: I couldn’t help but think of Miss Marple, only a lot edgier, and packing a .357.

Recommended by: Sue D’Num, Library Assistant

Does Buck Schatz sound like your kind of guy?  If so, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to take a look at its availability and/or to place a hold [link will open in a new window]

The Language of Trees

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TitleThe Language of Trees

Author:  Ilie Ruby

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, July 2010

Summary: Ilie Ruby’s debut novel opens with a canoeing accident in the waters of the Canandaigua Lake. The three small Ellis children have stolen a canoe and are making their way out to Squaw Island, a few miles away. When a storm springs up, the wind and waves prove to be too much for the children; only two will survive the storm. Twelve years later, the tragedy continues to haunt the residents of Canandaigua figuratively and literally.

Grant Shongo has returned to his family’s cabin on the lake. His wife Susanna left him a year ago and Grant has come back to heal. Back to the place his Seneca ancestors called The Chosen Spot, where the earth split open and his people emerged. Grant isn’t the only one who has been drawn back to Canandaigua. Echo, his first love, has returned from Boston, fearing that Joseph, the man who raised her, is in far worse health than he has let on.

The reunion of Grant and Echo is overshadowed by the disappearance of Melanie Ellis. Melanie has led a troubled life since that night twelve years ago, when she and her brother and sister were caught in the storm so far from shore. Now she is gone without a trace, leaving behind her boyfriend and young child. Some believe she is on yet another binge, but others are not convinced. Either way, her family is determined to find her. It is a perfect storm of sorts, these events that are unfolding. Events that will reveal secrets long kept hidden, a lifetime of secrets and mistakes “that catch up with a person in a span of a few hours”.

This is a great novel with endearing characters that will touch your heart. This is not a novel about regret; instead it is a story of accepting choices made and moving on without regret. It is a story that demonstrates that “not everything is meant to happen. Some things should stay as they are, just like that, full of possibility. It’s wanting them that gives you something to hope for, a reason to get up in the morning and put on a fancy dress”. I loved this novel and its message.

Who will like this book? Everyone, especially those who like literary fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Room

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Title: Room

Author:  Emma Donoghue

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, September 2010

Summary:  This is a raw, astonishing story of a boy and his mother who live as prisoners in a single, small room. It may be a reminder of headline grabbing kidnapping cases, but as narrated by the child, it is a testament to a mother’s love and resiliency. Sometimes very disturbing, the horror is darkly beautiful as Ma creates a life for her son. Jack’s innocence and curiosity builds as Ma’s desperation forces them both to confront a certain reality. Very inventive and poignant, Jack is so endearing, that his voice will stay with you for a long time.

Recommended by : Cindy B., Children’s Department

The Thieves of Manhattan

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TitleThe Thieves of Manhattan

Author:  Adam Langer

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (2010)

Summary: Ian Minot is a struggling writer working at the Morningside Coffee diner. Ian works alongside Joseph, a struggling actor, and Faye, an aspiring artist. Of the three, Ian has been the least successful in his career. His Romanian girlfriend Anya, however, is very close to getting her collection of short stories published while Ian continues to get rejection letters. One of the most memorable of these comes from the literary agent Geoff Olden who simply wrote “good luck placing this and all future submissions elsewhere”.

When Faye draws Ian’s attention to a customer they have nicknamed The Confident Man, Ian is appalled to see that he is reading a copy of the recently published memoir “Blade by Blade”. In Ian’s opinion, the book is a “bogus piece of crap”. As it turns out, The Confident Man feels the same way about it. The Confident Man is Jed Roth, a former editor at a very respectable publishing house. Jed left his position at Merrill Books when his decision not to publish “Blade by Blade” was overruled by the owner of Merrill Books. Jed has devised a plan to bring down Merrill Books and agent Geoff Olden and recruits Ian to play a crucial role in his scheme. Ian agrees but soon finds himself in over his head and unsure who to trust.

This is a fun story, full of humor and intrigue, which takes a few shots at the publishing industry along the way. The last few pages contain a glossary of selected terms used throughout the book, all based on literary figures.

Who will like this book? Anyone looking for a fun read, especially those who like intrigue. Anyone familiar with the publishing industry.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Death Echo

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TitleDeath Echo

Author:  Elizabeth Lowell

Publisher: HarperCollins, June 2010

Summary: Emma Cross, former CIA agent now working for St. Kilda Consulting, must rustle with Russian spies and a terrorist plot in Elizabeth Lowell’s latest book.  Emma needs to chase down “The Blackbird” a yacht that could have explosives attached to it… enough explosives to blow up a major city. The story moves from the Puget Sound to Vancouver Island.   Interestingly, a “twin” yacht went missing never making it to its port. Are the two connected somehow? Did they have the same owner?

Fortunately for Emma she doesn’t have to work alone. Enter Mackenzie Mac Durand, a former Special Ops guy, and the transit captain for “The Blackbird.” Sparks fly between the two and a romance blossoms amidst all of the turmoil.

They are in for a bumpy ride in this romantic suspense novel, fighting off Russian Spies, CIA agents, and a very hazardous sea -  and time is not on their side.

Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian