Tag Archives: 2009 Releases

When Skateboards Will Be Free

Title: When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood

Author: Said Sayrafiezadeh

Summary: In his debut memoir, Sayrafiezadeh describes his childhood in the Socialist Workers Party. Even after her husband leaves her to foment revolution in his native Iran, Said’s mom, Martha,  remains steadfast to him, and to the Party. Self-inflicted poverty is not only a constant, it is perceived as a guiding value - a way to identify with the struggle of the workers and a thumb to the eye of the bosses and their materialistic society. Martha tells young Said that he can have a skateboard after the revolution in an episode that supplies the title of the book.

While young Said hurtles through adulthood, attending SWP conferences, fearing for his father’s life in Iran, and taking a trip to Cuba to see the socialist dream in action, his mother’s psyche slowly unravels. This bracingly funny and shocking memoir is a revelation; a unique look into the world of people still waiting for the revolution to come from a powerful and promising new writer.

Who will like this book?: People who enjoy memoirs, particularly by people with interesting (and damaged) childhoods. Readers looking for insight into outsider and fringe politics.

If you like this, try this: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. For more on the politics, try Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism by Joshua Muravchik.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Little Bee

Title:  Little Bee

Author:  Chris Cleave

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, February 2009

Summary: Chris Cleave’s second novel is quite an accomplishment.  There are some beautiful moments, and some horrific moments throughout this complex story, told to us by two very different women who have been bound together by a violent event. The publishers of Little Bee are asking readers not to “spoil” the story by revealing too much of the plot.  While I don’t agree that this is altogether necessary (there’s no big secret revelation, really, a la The Double Bindby Chris Bohjalian), I’ll honor their wishes.

What I can tell you is that I found the voice of Little Bee and her story to be excellently portrayed and very moving.  When we first meet her she’s being released from a British immigration detention center after two years. We learn that she’s originally from a war-torn village in Africa, and has escaped almost certain death by stowing away on a ship to England.  She reaches out to Sarah and Andrew O’Rourke, a couple from London that Little Bee and her sister met one fateful day on a beach in Nigeria.  Sarah, our other narrator, takes Little Bee in even though her own life is in pieces after the suicide of her husband.  As the two women together try to imagine how they can possibly create new lives for themselves, we learn more about the awful truth that connects them and brings the story to its inevitable, heart-wrenching conclusion.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

The Leisure Seeker

Title: The Leisure Seeker

Author:Michael Zadoorian

Publisher: William Morrow, January 2009

Summary: The Leisure Seeker isthe second book by Mr. Zadoorian. He wrote Second Hand,which was an ABA Booksense 76 selection, a Barnes & Noble Award Finalist, and the winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.

This book is a charming little read about an elderly couple who flee across country against the wishes of doctors and family members. It starts off a little roughly but soon the reader is engaged in the adventure of a couple married sixty years who are determined to visit Disneyland one last time. There are no real surprises along the way save for some nice words of sentimental wisdom. Nevertheless I did find myself rather moved. The end of the story has a twist but not altogether unexpected.

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

The Survivor’s Club

Title: The Survivor’s Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life

Author: Ben Sherwood

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, January 2009

Summary: Ben Sherwood, a fiction author (The Man Who Ate the 747) hits a home run with this piece of general non-fiction. He asks a very simple, engrossing question: Who survives when the unthinkable occurs? When you fall off a cruise ship in shark infested waters or your plane crashes and goes on fire? When a jar of acid is dropped on your head or a knitting needle gets lodged in your heart? When a mountain lion attacks or you contract a flesh-eating virus?  Why do some people survive (and thrive) when most others would succumb?

Sherwood spends equal time discussing the science of these scenarios with experts and talking with the unforgettable survivors themselves. It is a fast-paced read suitable for everybody, and is a book you will likely want to own. Or at least, take notes on!

Who will like this book?: It’s hard to think of who wouldn’t like this book – but it is especially good for fans of survival stories and people who like to be really, really prepared for everything.

If you like this, try this: Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison. Brain Rules by John Medina.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Etta

Title: Etta

Author:  Gerald Kolpan

Publisher: Ballantine Books, March 2009

Summary: Who was Etta Place? Historians know her as an elusive and beautiful member of the outlaw gang “The Wild Bunch”. She is also known for her legendary romance with the Sundance Kid. Etta’s true identity and her fate after the Sundance Kid’s death remain a mystery. Gerald Kolpan has imagined and written a life story for this enigmatic woman. Though this is a work of fiction, it is clear the author extensively researched the era and included details about a number of things-from the Pinkerton Agency to railroad food. This clever debut novel will transport you back in time to the not-so-wild west and life on the run as a fugitive member of The Wild Bunch.

Who will like this book?  Fans of historical fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Three Weeks To Say Goodbye

Title: Three Weeks to Say Goodbye

Author:  C.J. Box

Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur, January 2009

Summary: Nine months after adopting their daughter Angelina, Jack and Melissa receive devastating news. The baby’s teenage father never signed the adoption papers and now he and his powerful father want the baby back. They have three weeks to prepare to hand their baby back over to her father-three weeks to say goodbye. It doesn’t take Jack and Melissa long to question the true motive of Angelina’s father and grandfather. The deeper they dig into the pasts of these two men, the more frightened they become for their daughter.

Jack and Melissa are convincing as parents facing a terrifying situation. If you are a true fan of thrillers (like me), don’t despair! There are plenty of sick and twisted characters to keep you interested in this one.

Who will like this book?  Thriller and crime fiction fans.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Lindbergh Child

Title: A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child

Author/Illustrator:Rick Geary

Publisher: Comics Lit, February 2009

Summary: After his transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh became an international hero, icon, and to his chagrin, celebrity. In the early ’30s, he and his wife moved to a new home in New Jersey in an attempt to live a private life. Little did they know that the tragic events that followed would thrust them even futher into the spotlight. Rick Geary begins his Tales of XXth Century Murder series with the story of the kidnapping (and murder) that led to ‘The Trial of the Century.’

We follow the events of the kidnapping, meet the various players in the investigation, and witness the trial and execution of Bruno Hauptman, who maintains his innocence throughout. Geary also discusses several of the alternate theories of the crime that persist to this day. Like his previous true crime graphic novels, this book is concise, informative, even-handed, and impossible to put down.

Who will like this book?: Fans of true crime and non-fiction graphic novels. Anyone interested in this famous crime, or the exploits of Charles Lindbergh.

If you like this, try this: Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Books in Geary’s A Treasury of Victorian Murder, including Jack the Ripper and The Borden Tragedy. The Plot Against America by Philp Roth.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

Title: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

Author:  Charlie Huston

Publisher: Ballantine, January 2009

Summary: Charlie Huston has a reputation for using vulgarity and profanity in his writing. His newest novel will cement that reputation. The dialogue, however, did not offend me because it was true to the characters. I couldn’t imagine them speaking any other way.

Webster Fillmore Goodhue, Web for short, is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been slacking off a bit. Once a middle school teacher, he is now living off his best friend Chev. Web is offered and encouraged to accept some part time work with Clean Team. Apparently, the trauma scene and waste cleaning industry is very competitive and the employees of Clean Team have to watch their backs. It doesn’t help that Web gets involved with a beautiful young woman who needs him to “clean up” a mess in a seedy motel room. Web finds himself in all kinds of trouble, and even though his life has been in a downward spiral, he still tries to be a good person and do the right thing.

The descriptions of the trauma scenes are grisly and may be too much for some readers. If you can get over past the language and the gore, this book is really rather amusing.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who will admit, even if its just to themselves, that they like inappropriate dialogue and blood and guts.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

A Pearl in the Storm

Title:   A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

Author:   Tori Murden McClure

Publisher: Harper Collins, April 2009

Summary:  Sometimes when you start a book by a new author it is important to give the story a chance to win you over. This is one of those books.   I picked up this book because I had done some rowing in a former life. I also am fascinated by the idea of people doing extraordinary physical things that most armchair  “explorers”  can only dream of.

And true to form there are plenty of exciting moments where the reader holds their breath and cheers Tori on through some horrible storms including a hurricane. However, the most appealing quality of this book is the realistic way Tori reveals her story while she reflects upon the pivotal moments and people of her life as she rows across the Atlantic Ocean.  Each life is unique and Tori’s tale does not disappoint.  Her physical prowess is impressive to be sure however her humanity is even more so. She invites the reader to share her zig-zag road to contentment, or maybe even happiness.

Who will like this book:   Anyone who enjoys an adventure, a tale of extreme physical challenge or perhaps someone who is at a crossroads in their life.

If you like this, try this:  Books by Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux.

Recommended by:  Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

Blood in the Cage

Title: Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC

Author: L. Jon Wertheim

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2009

Summary: Ten years ago it was decried as ‘human cockfighting’ and banned in many states across the country. Today, mixed martial arts (or MMA) is perhaps the fastest growing sport on the planet.  L. Jon Wertheim explores the phenomenon that is MMA, and in particular the dominant brand, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), through the rise of Pat Miletich, a former champion and world-renowned trainer.

Miletich was among the first fighters to combine multiple fighting styles into one complete attack, and through his meteoric rise from poverty in the Midwest to international stardom, we see the evolution of MMA from it’s no-holds-barred origins to today’s slick promotional machine, with monthly pay-per-views and a massively popular reality show. Love it or hate it, MMA is an economic powerhouse that outdraws boxing and professional wrestling. You probably know someone who watches it. Give this book to them!

Who will like this book: This book is indispensable for MMA fans, but it is also a great read for sports generalists or fans of other combat sports such as boxing or traditional martial arts.

If you like this, try this: A great read about the hows and whys of fighting, A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan. A biography of an iconic UFC champion, Iceman by Chuck Liddell. Another (slightly irreverent) look at a booming sport, NASCAR, in Sunday Money by Jeff MacGregor.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian