Tag Archives: 2014 Releases

BEST BOOKS OF 2014

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!

Amazon

Goodreads

Huffington Post

New York Times

NPR

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

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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

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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

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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

We Are Called to Rise

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Title: We Are Called to Rise   

Author: Laura McBride

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, May 2014

Summary/Review: The mother of a returned Iraq War veteran, a young Albanian boy, an injured soldier and a volunteer social service worker have lives and stories that intersect in this debut novel set in Las Vegas. The novel is told through the four voices of these characters. We learn much about their backgrounds and the many issues that make up their stories.  Through the mother Avis we also learn about the husband who is divorcing her, their troubled son and his wife. Their family issues and losses are profound. Through the soldier Luis, recovering in a hospital, we learn about his loving grandmother who has looked after him his whole life. Through the little boy, Bashkim we come to know his whole family, the issues these new immigrants are faced with and a great tragedy that brings all of these characters together.  This book is filled with emotion and will leave you with much to think about.  I really like the title of this book because in spite of the tragedy and sadness, each character rises toward hope with courage and compassion.

Who will like this book?  This book will appeal to a wide-range of contemporary fiction readers. It has well-developed characters that you care about along with an engaging writing style.

If you like this, try this:   Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler; The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

Recommended by:  Jan, Administration

Does this look 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!

One Kick

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Title: One Kick

Author : Chelsea  Cain

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, 2014

Summary/Review: This book is a first in yet another series! (I know,  it’s hard to commit to a series since there is so many good books out there.)  But believe me –  if you like strong characters and fast-paced action then this is the book for you.

The main character is a strong willed 21 year old named Kick Lannigan. She was kidnapped at age 6 by a man named Mel, who was into child pornography and children trafficking.  She is rescued by the FBI at the age of 11. One FBI agent in particular, Frank, has become her guardian angel of sorts. Kick’s life after the kidnapping did not go well. Her parents divorced and her mother made a lot of money exploiting Kick. At the age of 21 she gets involved in a series of child kidnappings that hit very close to home.

Her abductor, Mel, is in jail and dying of Kidney failure. He knows something about the person who is taking these kids. She decides to confront him to try to get information.  A mysterious man named Bishop shows up and demands Kick’s help. She doesn’t trust him or – anyone for that matter. She agrees because of the boy Adam and the girl Mia whom they are looking for. Without giving too much away, it’s a roller coaster ride  to the very end.

Who will like this book? : Anyone who has read Chelsea Cain before, or someone who doesn’t  mind graphic details and some very disturbing contents. She does write it so well that you really don’t feel offended by it.

If you like this, try this: If you like this book I recommend reading her series with Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowe    In order by title: Heatsick, Sweetheart, Evil At Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice and Let Me go.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

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

Soldier Girls

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Title: Soldier Girls

Author: Helen Thorpe

Publisher: Scribner, August 2014

Summary/Review: A thoroughly touching look at the circumstances and lives of three women in Indiana who, for various reasons, have enlisted in the National Guard. A common thread is an attempt to utilize their service to further their secondary educations with the assistance of the GI Bill. The last thing any of them expect is to be sent to a war zone. But that is exactly what happens when the US becomes ensnared in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see the economic, emotional and family hardships exacted upon these women by prolonged absence from family and friends. We learn how difficult it is to be a woman in the almost-entirely male national guard and then in the US armed services overseas.

The three women are at different ages and points in their lives as they struggle (that’s the only word for their trials) to adapt, thrive and survive the day-to-day boredom, danger and stress of providing administrative, repair and support services, since they are banned from “combat” duties. They are, however, certainly in harm’s way every time they venture outside the US compounds where they work and live while on duty.

This is a look at women in vastly different economic and educational situations than most of us in southern Connecticut experience and certainly enlightens us about the real people behind the headlines and media coverage which barely touches on the human cost of repetitive and prolonged deployments experienced by the citizen-soldiers in the US National Guard services. You will enjoy the time you spend learning about the lives of these three women.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a new perspective on war and deployment.

If you like this, try this: Helen Thorpe has written only one other book, “Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America”, but be on the lookout for more from this author. If you are looking for books about war and deployment, try “Undaunted: The Real Story of America’s Servicewomen in Today’s Military” which offers another take on women in the military, or “Fives and Twenty-Fives” by Michael Pitre.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

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

Boy, Snow, Bird

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Title: Boy, Snow, Bird

Author: Helen Oyeyemi

Publisher: Riverhead Books, March 2014

Summary/Review: A loose retelling of the story of Snow White, Boy, Snow, Bird deals with the issues of jealousy, race, family, and identity.  Set in Massachusetts during the pre-civil rights era, Boy Novak Whitman is surprised when her newborn daughter, Bird, is born with dark skin. Unbeknownst to Boy, her husband Arturo and stepdaughter Snow, as well as most of his family, are African Americans passing for white.  Aware of society’s, and her in laws’, idea of beauty leads to Boy’s jealousy and resentment of light skinned Snow and an evil stepmother is born.

Told through the voices of more than one of the complex characters in this novel, Boy, Snow, Bird is a great choice for book groups and anyone who likes multilayered fiction. You won’t be bombarded with parallels to Snow White’s story, but you will catch a glimpse of her from time to time.

Who will like this book? Someone who enjoys loose retellings of fairy tales.  Someone who is looking for a book that will leave them thinking about it.

If you like this, try this: If you enjoyed the fairy tale retelling, try The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.  These stories are more popular in young adult and children’s, including the Grimm trilogy by Adam Gidwitz, multiple series by Shannon Hale, and more.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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

Miniaturist

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Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Publisher: Harper Collins, August 2014

Summary/Review: When 18 year old Nella Oortman travels to Amsterdam to meet her new husband, she finds her life will be very different than she could ever have imagined.

Nella’s new husband, Johannes Brandt, is a 39 year old merchant trader in the city of Amsterdam. His successful business has allowed Johannes to have a nice home, servants, and some of the finer things in life. Nella arrives to find Johannes’ sister, Marin, at home but not Johannes. In fact, Johannes deftly dodges his new bride for as long as he can, claiming his business keeps him away from home.

To make up for his absence, Johannes gives Nella a gift-a miniature replica of her new home. She is also given the means to furnish it as she wishes. As Nella orders pieces to complete the cabinet sized house, she receives more than she bargained, or paid, for. Somehow, the miniaturist she hires creates exact replicas of their real life counterparts as if he or she has been in the home before. Nella also receives pieces that she did not order, but still perfectly match items in her home. As her life in repressive Amsterdam starts to take dangerous twists and turns, Nella has to wonder whether the mysterious miniaturist is foretelling her future with each new reproduction or orchestrating her destruction.

Jessie Burton’s debut novel may be set in 1686, but the prejudices and discrimination that take place are still, shamefully, taking place in 2014. Burton’s writing will transport you to Amsterdam complete with the sights and sounds of the bustling city. A great choice for book clubs and historical fiction readers, The Miniaturist will give you plenty to think about and talk about.

Who will like this book? Someone looking for a book that will lend itself to conversation.  Someone looking to be transported to another time and place.

If you like this, try this: If you are looking for more good historical fiction, try Geraldine Brooks, Phillipa Gregory, or Ken Follett.  “Girl With the Pearl Earring”  may be another choice for you.  This is Burton’s first novel, but the buzz with this book is huge – so be on the lookout for more!

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

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!

Swan Gondola

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Title: The Swan Gondola

Author: Timothy Schaffert 

Publisher: Riverhead, 2014 

Summary/Review: When I decided to read this book, I thought the subject was the 1898 Worlds Fair in Omaha Nebraska.  I also thought it was going to be similar to  “The Devil in the White City”, a fantastic book about the Chicago World’s Fair.  It was not at all like the “Devil in the White City” in that the Fair is only a back drop, the story is purely fictional, and if examined more closely, it could be a take-off of “The Wizard of Oz.”   Quirky would be a good word to describe it.

FYI:  I wondered if there was even a Omaha World’s Fair.   This is a description that I found:

There were 11 large, white buildings and dozens of smaller ones surrounding a giant lagoon on which lovers could take gondola rides. There was a miniature railroad, an exhibit of “horseless carriages” — a forerunner to the automobile — exotic dancers from the Middle East, a street scene from Cairo, strange fortune tellers roaming the midway, ostriches pulling carriages, food and clothing from around the world and, last but not least, an exhibit that showcased babies sleeping in incubators.

YIKES

The “Swan Gondola” is the love story of Ferret, a ventriloquist, and Cecil, a beautiful actress, who meet at the Omaha World’s Fair and fall in love. There is much magic, crazy science, and undying love to make a good love story.  People who liked “Night Circus” may like this book.

As an aside, the book both begins and ends with the importance of a librarian’s influence over Ferret’s life.   I enjoyed the symmetrical bookends.

Who would like this book? Someone who’s looking for something a little different.

If you like this, try this: “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

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!