Tag Archives: 2011 Releases

The Martian

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Title: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, 2011

Summary/Review: To understand why you will enjoy this novel let’s start with the author. Andy Weir was hired as a computer programmer for a national laboratory at age 15. He is a self-described science geek who actually created and programmed a Mars mission in order to make this story as realistic as possible. His grasp of all things outer space, scientific and NASA is truly breathtaking. He actually received a book and a movie deal within weeks of each other.

We meet the hero of the story, who I could not help but thinking of as Matt Damon, who stars in the movie, as he wakes up from a dust storm catastrophe as a member of a manned mission to Mars. He is all alone and wonders why he isn’t dead. The rest of the crew has lost touch with him an assumes that he is dead. He is incredibly resourceful as he creates, seemingly out of thin air, methods to produce water, oxygen and to grow potatoes to provide sufficient calories to sustain him for the years he figures he will have to wait for even a remote chance of rescue.

Time and again the poor guy has to react to the unforgiving climate and the unexpected consequences of his solutions to an unending list of problems of everyday life, any one of which could kill him. Along the way he hatches plans to modify the Mars surface rover vehicle to allow him to reclaim a probe from a previous mission and hot-wire it to make radio contact with Earth, and other McGiver-like scientific sleight-of-hand just to make it to the next day.

An unexpected pleasure of this book is how funny it is as he talks to himself and then to NASA about the problems of surviving and maintaining a minimum level of sanity as he survives alone for years. He watches lots of 70’s era television shows, listens to Disco music and reads detective novels, all left behind after the first of the many catastrophes he endures.

This is an exceptionally interesting and funny read. You will only be disappointed when it ends.

Who will like this book?:  This book was recently made into a movie, so if you’ve seen it and enjoyed it of course you should read the book!  Someone looking for a funny book that’s written about a serious topic.

If you like this, try this:  This is Andy Weir’s first novel, but you can expect more from him after the success of The Martian. It’s rated 4.38 of over 250,000 reviews on Goodreads –  if that doesn’t convince him to write again nothing will! There are a slew of space novels available, but none hit the funny mark quite like Andy Weir.  If you’re looking for funny science fiction, try Ernest Cline or the classic Douglas Adams.

Recommended by:  Mark Z, guest reviewer

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!

 

Peach Keeper

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Title: The Peach Keeper

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Publisher: Bantam Books, 2011

Summary/Review: Ever since Willa Jackson moved back to her Southern hometown of Walls of Water she has chosen to lead a quiet life away from society’s rich townspeople and the disgrace of her family name. However, when the 75th anniversary gala of the Women’s Society Club, which was co-founded by her grandmother, was announced strange things began to happen.

The event was being held at the glorious Blue Ridge Madam, a house that Willa’s family once owned and later lost generations ago to financial trouble. After years of neglect, the house was being restored by Paxton Osgood, a former classmate and current president of the club.

While renovating the property the only peach tree was removed unleashing a dark secret that was buried deep within its roots, leaving skeletal remains and a spiritual presence. As Willa and Paxton try to piece together the mysteries surrounding the tree, they learn more about their families than they ever knew and discover what true friendship really means.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys a good story that deals with family secrets, friendship, love, and a bit of mystic.

If you like this, try this: The Girl Who Chased the Moon or Garden Spells, also by Sarah Addison Allen.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

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

 

 

One On One

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Title: One on One:  Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game

Author: John Feinstein

Publisher: Little, Brown, & Company 2011

Summary/Review: I don’t know how I keep encountering books like this one. John Feinstein, the incredibly successful sports columnist and author, takes the reader “inside”, way inside, the world of college and professional sports time after time. In this book, the author goes back to interview and to reexamine the subjects of some of his previous investigative books. You are reacquainted with Bob Knight (A Season on the Brink), Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (The Majors), several Patriot League basketball players (The Last Amateurs), and many, many other internationally famous athletes. Feinstein’s genius for behind-the-scenes, unlimited-access sports reporting and writing allows the lucky reader first-person access to the heroes of just about any game to have watched from afar, your whole life. It’s no surprise that his books, both non-fiction as well as his novels, rise to the top, or very near the top of best-seller lists time and again.

If you enjoy sports of any kind, and are at all interested in the people behind the box scores and headlines, you will only be disappointed when you come to the end of John Feinstein’s latest investigative effort.

Who will like this book?: Those interested in sports, who are interested in getting a more personal look at athletes and sports reporting

If you like this, try this: Frank Deford is one of the more-famous sports writers, and has written a number of books that investigate the sports world.  Additionally, the book “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by by James Andrew Miller might be of interest if you’re looking for a book more focused on the world of investigative reporting when it comes to sports.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

Dangerous Instincts

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Title: Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us. (Fear Can’t Help You. An FBI Profiler Can)

Author: Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.

Publisher: Penguin, 2011

Summary/Review: The author knows her business.  She is a retired FBI profiler and has seen and interviewed violent criminals of all types: mass murderers, rapists, kidnappers, pedophiles.  The purpose of this book is to impart to readers how people don’t make safe decisions on a regular basis:  hiring a contractor in the home, deciding at whose home your child can play, or even opening the door to a complete stranger.  We get lulled into a false sense of safety because our biases lead us to deem someone harmless when we really don’t have enough information to make a decision. The author tries to instruct on how to assess risk: physical risk, health risk, social or emotional risk, professional, or financial.  Being a good listener is key; but “listening between the lines” is even better.  She also discusses how to observe a persons behavior to try to make an assessment.  She also discusses those people in our society who are most dangerous:  the sociopath.

Scary when I think of the number of times that I have done exactly what the author warns us against.  I will never be able to read someone’s mind, but I will try to employ some of these techniques in my own danger-filled life!

Who will like this book?:  Those who are interested in psychology, or are interested in true crime.

If you like this, try this:  If you are interested in the psychology topics discussed in the book, Malcolm Gladwell has a number of books, including “Blink” which you may find interesting- especially because he discusses the decisions made on impulse.  “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout may also be interesting for you, as she discusses the nature of humans and what makes them stray from a healthy psychological profile.

If you would like to learn more about criminal profiling, Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, Erik Larson’s “Devil in the White City”, and Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” might be good choices, but beware – they may be graphic.

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like your kind of book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check if its available and place a hold. [Link will open in a new window]

Going Home

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Title: Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die

Author: Jonathan Katz

Publisher Villard Books, 2011 

Summary/Review: Jonathan Katz is famous for his many books on dogs and life on Bedlam Farm – he’s written seven novels and twelve works of non-fiction.  But he’d never really addressed what happens to someone when an animal that they have loved and cared for dies.  When Katz made the very difficult decision to put down his border collie Orson, he was blindsided by a grief that was so strong, he didn’t quite know how to deal with it, so initially he didn’t.  After some time and healing, he realized that his experience was very similar to others who’d lost pets, so he decided to write a book about it.  This beautiful book will be of real help to anyone who’s said goodbye to an animal that they loved.  Katz addresses not only the grief – he also writes about the guilt that may come from having had to make the decision to end a pet’s life.  Speaking from personal experience, this book is very comforting and a true gift for anyone in pain over the loss of a pet.

Who Will Like ItAnyone who has ever shed a tear over the loss of a beloved pet.

If you like this, try this: As mentioned, Jon Katz has a number of other books including “Dogs of Bedlam Farms”, “A Good Dog”, and “Dog Year”.  If you’re looking for more stories about pets, try “Marley & Me” by John Grogan, or “Dewey” by Vicki Myron.

Recommended by:  Mary, Reference Librarian

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