Tag Archives: 2014 Releases

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

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!

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!

Paying Guests



Title: The Paying Guests

Author: Sarah Waters

Publisher: Riverhead Books, September 2014

Summary/Review: I have never read the fiction of Sarah Waters before, but I am happy to have now read The Paying Guests.  She writes beautifully – creating characters that you can literally see and hear in your own head as you read the book.

The story begins at the dusk of the Edwardian era, a few years after the end of World War I.  Frances lives with her mother in what was previously a grand house.  They have fallen on hard times.  Frances’ father is dead, after having mismanaged the family fortune and a brother has died in the War.  In order to make ends meet, they must take in paying guests — a matter of some shame.

The Barbers, a young middle class, perhaps lower middle class couple, take rooms on the second floor.  They are young, stylish in their way, and are a product of a new society growing in England that has tossed aside the trappings of propriety of the past.

The author slowly unfolds the plot to reveal events that would never be understood or tolerated at this time in English society. Then the final unforgivable act takes place– and it is a fast and furious ride all the way to the end of the novel. So hang on.

Who will like this?: Those interested in period novels that describe post WWI-era. Someone looking for a gripping novel.

If you like this, try this: If you’re interested in the 1920’s, the standard is “Great Gatsby”. However, you could also try Hemingway or Fitzgerald. If you liked Sarah Waters’ writing, you could try her other novels including “The Night Watch” and “Affinity”.

Recommended by: Susan Z, Reference

Does this look like a book you’d like?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!


Jerry Lee Lewis


Title : Jerry Lee Lewis : His Own Story

Author : Rick Bragg

Publisher : HarperCollins, Oct. 2014

Summary / Review : Rick Bragg listened to Jerry Lee’s stories for over two years and then wrote about his life like a he was a member of the family.

Jerry Lee Lewis was born in 1935 in Ferriday Louisiana, a place where the water would rise up routinely, flooding the land, destroying homes and farms, and leaving behind writhing nests of copperheads and diamondbacks. His family was poor. His mother picked cotton and his father was a bootlegger and sometime carpenter. But Jerry Lee decided early on to “live by a set of rules separate from those set down for dull, regular people.”

He was four when he discovered the piano on a visit to his Aunt Stella’s house.  He touched one key and, as he explains to Rick Bragg “I don’t know what happened.  Somethin’ strange.  I felt it in my whole body.” His father, Elmo, would mortgage his farm to buy Jerry Lee his first piano, At the age of 80, he still has it.

Formal piano lessons, of which there was only one, did not work well for Jerry Lee.  He learned by playing and listening, sneaking into Haney’s Big House where he would hide under the tables until he was hauled out by Will Haney himself and shown the door.

Formal schooling also did not work out well for Jerry Lee.  His nickname, Killer, didn’t come from his on-stage antics with the piano but by trying to strangle the 7th grade teacher with the teacher’s own tie. After earning $14 at his first professional gig at the age of 14, belting out “Wine Spo-dee-o-dee” for a crowd gathered at the Paul Ford Motor Co to get a look at the the new model with the flathead V8 well loved by both bootleggers and G-men, Jerry Lee decided to quit school.  He “saw no future in it.”

His upbringing in the Pentecostal Church would create a life-long tension between the fear of the Holy Ghost and the love of the secular music he chose to play. In a last ditch effort at throwing his cards in with the Holy Ghost,  Jerry Lee enrolled in the Southwestern Bible Institute where they offered courses in Bible study, Pentecostal history and church business.  He lasted three months.  He was asked to do a piano solo at the singspiration, a night of religious entertainment.  He obliged with a boogie rendition of My God is Real, which he described as “up-tempo spiritual,” unfortunately the Dean interpreted it as “reckless and prurient.” The next day he was asked to leave.  It was back to the clubs and for that every music lover should be grateful.

Rick Bragg chronicles all the highs and lows of the quintessential rock and roll life – the wives (six by some counts, seven by others), the women, the drugs, the fights, the honky-tonks and juke joints. Jerry Lee’s star rises and falls more than once in a career which spans decades and continues with the recent release of Rock & Roll Time. His command of music encompasses rock, country, gospel and he is as inspired belting out Great Balls of Fire as he is performing the old hymns, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Railroad to Heaven, on another recent release (Mean Old Man).

As Jerry Lee says “I’ve had an interestin’ life, haven’t I?  A great Life.”

Read about his life to a background of his music. Visit our website to select some of Jerry Lee’s music from Freegal or Hoopla.

Who Will Like This : As Rick Bragg might say, “Anyone who ever danced in their socks.”

If You Like This Try This : For more on Jerry Lee read Unconquered : The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mikey Gilley or try another recent biography of a music legend – Respect : The Life of Aretha Franklin

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

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor…


Title: Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Author: Joan Biskupic

Summary/Review: The most interesting thing about this book is the direction the author chose in describing the selection and Senate approval of Justice Sotomayor. She describes in wonderful detail how it is nowhere near enough to be a brilliant, Ivy League educated, experienced lawyer and lower court judge, but how politics and one’s network of associates, mentors and friends impact the possibility of being selected by the President of the United States and then surviving Senate confirmation hearings. The author takes us through some of Justice Sotomayor’s upbringing and education, but focuses on the way she drove herself to cultivate professional associations and friendships to give her the best chance to do social good from lower court benches and concurrently, to give her the best chance to climb the ladder of judicial advancement. One problem I had was that I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed, “My Beloved World”, Sonia Sotomayor’s auto-biography. As far as human interest and reader involvement, it far out shone this book. But again, the books are written from two different points of view.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in Sotomayor or politics in general.

If you like this, try this: I would still recommend reading “Breaking In” if you are interested in the intricacies and politics involved in the professional life of a judge in the United States.

Check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available and/or to place a hold!


Next week, we’ll bring you the FPL Staff Picks for 2014!  But if you’d like to get a head-start on your holiday shopping, here are some other published “Best of” Lists!  All of them will open in a new tab, to make it nice and easy to compare!



Huffington Post

New York Times


Publisher’s Weekly

Wall Street Journal

One of the big winners is Anthony Doerr’s “All The Light We Cannot See”, who came to FPL.  Some others include “Euphoria”, “On Innoculation”, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” and “Station Eleven”.  Think any great ones were missed?

We’ll be back next week with our staff picks!

I am Pilgrim


Title: I Am Pilgrim

Author: Terry Hayes

Publisher: Atria, 2014

Summary/Review: I am always amazed at the detail and intrigue which the great thriller-writers create for our entertainment. This novel, about a premiere field agent who races against time and the evil guile of his foe to head off global Armageddon, keeps the reader turning all 600 pages as fast as you can read them. When you reach the end you will wish there were another couple of hundred pages to enjoy.

There is a telling line in the book which says that the international intelligence services will long for the good old days when terrorists depended on suicide bombers and merely crashing airplanes into buildings compared to what our hero is up against.

Not to be a spoiler, but this is a tale about an evil genius of a desert fighter who evades international law enforcement, creates a modern-day plague, and along the way dazzles the reader with his technological wizardry, high-level education and single-minded zeal to exact terrible revenge on the United States for their actions in the middle east. His actions and abilities are narrowly matched by the former US agent who pursues him with just-barely-matching technical and mental capabilities.

Who will like this book?: If you enjoy thrillers, you cannot go wrong investing the time reading this exceptional novel.

If you like this, try this: This is going to be part of a series, so be on the lookout for the next books if you enjoyed this plotline. If you like the government thriller aspect, try Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson (more brutal). The plotline is also reminiscent of Bourne Identity, a series which is worth a read by Robert Ludlum.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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 Painter


Title: The Painter

Author: Peter Heller

Publisher: Knopf, May 2014

Summary/Review: Peter Heller’s second novel is a huge departure from his stunning post-apocalyptic debut, The Dog Stars. From Good Reads,

“Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.”

Heller’s novel is a quintessential guy book with lengthy descriptions of fishing, painting, violence and memories of his daughter. Heller’s character Stegner spends a large portion of the book inside his own head.

Who will like this book?  This book will appeal to anglers, artists, lovers of the Southwest, and readers hungry for an intellectual suspense novel.

If you like this, try this:   Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham.

Recommended by:  Philip, Reference

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!


Cabinet of Curiosities


Title: Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

Authors: Stefan Bachmann, Emma Trevayne, Katherine Catmull, & Claire Legrand

Published:  Greenwillow Books, 2014

Summary/Review:  This book of short stories is presented by four outstanding children’s/YA authors.  Asked to collect their most horrifying stories, the authors have formed a “cabinet” to share amongst themselves and with the public the tales of terror they have found across the world. The tales are divided between themed sections including fairies, magic, music, and more.  The tales range between slightly creepy and odd to downright scary, many leaving the reader guessing about the future.  (Some of the less-satisfying endings are brought to a conclusion in the final chapter of the book, where the “curators” revisit some of the characters they have found.)  Adults will easily recognize the fine writing of the book, which does not rely heavily upon gore and shock factors, but instead relies on the quality of both the prose and the stories themselves.

This book would make a great read-aloud for parents (who may want to read the stories ahead of time, lest some of them are too scary for their children) but would also serve wonderfully for those busy children that can’t devote a ton of time to their pleasure reading.  Clocking in between 5 and 25 pages each (for the most part), children could skip around and find the story that suits their time limit.

Who will like this book?:  Someone looking for a creepy read.  While the book itself is over 400 pages, the actual stories themselves are short – so they could work well for a child who is pressed for time or who doesn’t have the patience to sit through 400 pages of the same story.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re looking for more creepy stories, try the Alan Schwartz “Scary Stories” series.  While those illustrations are far scarier than those found in “Cabinet”, the stories are the same caliber of scary (with slightly more gore).  The four authors of “Cabinet” are prominent children’s and YA authors, so if you like a particular writer’s stories, there’s plenty more from them available.  If you’re looking into more short stories, Jon Scieszka has a series of “Guy Reads” books, including one titled “Thrillers”.  And as always, these are NOT just for guys!

Recommended by:  Lauren O, Library staff

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