A great thriller set on Mars. Be warned: it’s very science-heavy. If you can get past that (give it 40-50 pages), you’re in for a treat! Mark Watney is one of six astronauts on the third manned expedition to Mars. Six days into their research, a huge dust storm forces them to abandon the mission. Thinking Mark has been killed, he is left behind alone (the first line: “I’m pretty much fucked”). Many reviews mention that it’s like MacGyver or Robinson Crusoe on Mars and that’s pretty accurate, as Mark uses his skills to try to survive until he can be rescued.
-review by Donna Bacchiocchi, Manager of Technical Services
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Check the availability of The Martian here in our catalog.
Read other reviews of Andy Weir’s debut novel on Kirkus (here) and The Christian Science Monitor (here) . Or, try the book on for size by reading (or listening to, if you prefer) an excerpt from The Martian here on ScienceFriday.com.
Steven Patrick Morrissey, the controversial former lead singer of seminal British band the Smiths, has crafted a beautiful and timeless memoir in his Autobiography. It is lyrical, dense, and a must-read for devotees of this prolific singer-songwriter.
Morrissey paints a bleak picture of his youth in 1960s Manchester, England. No one appreciates his adoration of the New York Dolls or fashion. School is dreary, but his Irish-transplant family is loving. Throughout the memoir, Morrissey tells tales of rock stars, music industry thievery, and spends a good chunk of words on the ugly Smiths royalties court case. Lowell, MA gets a mention after a successful solo show at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in 1997.
Since its October 2013 publication, Autobiography has been topping the bestseller lists in the United Kingdom. Americans had to wait until December for the U.S. release from Putnam Publishers. The books do vary; the British Penguin Classics book is only available in paperback format, while the Putnam version is in hardcover and slightly abridged. Some stories and photos have mysteriously vanished from our American book, but it is still peppered with glorious quotes such as, “… the solution to all predicaments is the goodness of privacy in a warm room with books.”
-Review by Amy Galante, Assistant Manager of Library Services
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Search our catalog to see if Autobiography is available to check out.
Pop culture website Vulture has a list of their “25 Most Morrissey-y Quotes in the Morrissey Autobiography.”
Unfamiliar with the Morrissey and the Smiths? Warner Music UK’s Interactive Sound of the Smiths is a great starter.
Ransom Riggs, author of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is back with the sequel Hollow City. The creepy and eccentric children from the first book now escape from their island off the coast of Wales. Time-traveling to London during the Blitz, Jacob and his friends are on a mission to seek out a shape-shifter who can help save their beloved Miss Peregrine. While attempting to locate help for their headmistress (she’s in a locked cage, trapped in the body of a bird), the children find themselves being chased by Miss Peregrine’s brother.
Note: If you are interested in Hollow City, you’ll want to read the original first. Reviewers have said that the book does not stand up well on its own.
Learn more about the original book and its sequel, along with information about the author’s plans for further books and upcoming film adaptation in this article in Publishers Weekly.
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The Bentley Library has both Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City - check our catalog for availability here.
As a child, I was partial to certain mystery book series. As an adult, I’ve fallen in love with several mystery series that never fail to disappoint. One is Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. The other is Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce novels. Their settings and heroines are worlds apart. But the writing and the characters are, in every instance of each series, my perfect antidote for the dry spell between great books.
For the uninitiated, Flavia is a nearly twelve year old girl who lives in a decaying British estate. This particular heroine lives for solving murders in the English countryside using her impressively cultivated knowledge of chemistry. I’ve written of my love for Flavia and provided a larger back-story in a previous review on Book Buzz (read here). In this latest book, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, a new exciting climax is reached as readers learn the truth about her mother and father. Flavia is ordered to move along at the end of this book and it is unclear (at least to this reader) whether Bradley will continue to write future books for the series. In case you couldn’t tell, I rather enjoyed the newest book in the series and can’t recommend it enough!
-review by Colleen Mullally, reference librarian
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If, after reading this post, you are curious about acquainting yourself with Flavia and her series of mysteries, please rest assured as the Bentley Library has a copy of all of the books in the series, including the newest The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Check the availability of any of the titles in the series in our catalog here.
According to the author’s website and the IMDB, there will be a Flavia de Luce television series out in 2015! Very few details are available from the IMBD (read here) at present.
Reading Col. Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything was so enjoyable. Prior to this book, I have to confess that I hadn’t given much thought much to how to become a successful astronaut (let alone a Canadian boy watching the first moonwalk on TV, whose dream it was to one day to travel to space). I learned so much from reading – not just about the American, Russian, and Canadian space programs – but also about all the work involved in getting to outer-space. The book is a biography with many of life’s lessons emphasized throughout each of the chapters. Not only did I learn more about preparing to travel (and traveling) in space but I also learned some practical (and philosophical) lessons from being a”square astronaut, round hole” where – despite all sims (simulations) – there still is the experience of figuring out how to exit the hatch of the Shuttle (round hole) while wearing a space suit (square astronaut).
I’d highly recommend this book and felt I had so much more of an appreciation for certain scenes in the new movie Gravity as a result of reading Col. Chris Hadfield’s work.
-review by Colleen Mullally, reference librarian
Check It Out
Check the availability of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth here in our catalog.
NPR interviewed Hadfield a few months ago with Col. Chris Hadfield. Watch or read the excerpts here! While on his final space mission, he took some time to put his music skills to use and sung (and strummed) along to David Bowie’s song”Space Oddity.” That recording was developed into a music video that went viral in 2012 and it’s available on YouTube to watch here. To get a feel for life in space, you can see all 29 of Chris Hadfield’s videos here. He developed quite a following from his tweets – follow him on Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield.
And Now, There’s Even a Book Trailer!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a sweet and smart and funny take on the romantic comedy. Australian genetics professor Don Tillman is “socially awkward” with OCD and Asperger’s tendencies — I picture a more grown-up version of Sheldon Cooper from the “The Big Bang Theory” who is not as repulsed by the idea of sexual intimacy (but is still technically a virgin). When Don is 39 he decides he needs to find a companion and embarks on the “Wife Project”, complete with a thorough questionnaire to weed out those deemed unsuitable; Don prides himself on his scientific approach and efficiency and does not like to waste any time at all. He soon meets Rosie, who is NOT a match for the Wife Project, but as a DNA expert he agrees to help her with her quest to find her biological father (the “Father Project”). Soon his life is thrown into disarray and joy as he becomes consumed by the “Rosie Project”.
- Review by Donna Bacchiocchi, Manager of Technical Services
The book has been reviewed by The Guardian (read) and The New York Times (read). Read an interview with author Graeme Simsion in The Examiner. Sony Pictures has optioned the screen rights and the author will write the script. Learn more about the author by visiting his website at graemesimsion.com.
Check It Out
Check the library catalog to see if The Rosie Project is on the shelf.
This fall marks the debut of a new national “library staff picks” program called LibraryReads. All public library staff members (not just readers’ advisory librarians) are invited to nominate new adult titles that they have read, loved, and are eager to share with patron. While the list focuses on adult titles, books from all categories and genres can be nominated. The ten most frequently recommended titles will be calculated monthly.
Visit the Site
View the current month’s LibraryReads list, visit the archive, sign up for the newsletter, and get the latest news by visiting libraryreads.org.
Widely known for her novel The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has a new book out entitled Raven Girl. Like her book The Nightmobile, Niffenegger’s Raven Girl is a story told in pictures, that story being a modern fairy tale described by Publishers Weekly as “an eerie picture book for adults.”
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Transforming the Raven Girl into a ballet, Audrey Niffenegger collaborated with composer Gabriel Yared and Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor to be performed by the London Royal Ballet. Learn more about the ballet and read about Niffenegger’s experiences of dance and the inspiration behind her latest work.
More from Book Buzz
The Interestings opens on Julie Jacobson in 1974, starting her first summer at a camp for artistic teens called Spirit-in-the-Woods. New and insecure, she gets “adopted” by a group of five seasoned campers, who christen themselves the “Interestings” (and upgrade her name to a cooler-sounding “Jules”). The rest of the book follows Jules and the five other characters (Ethan, Jonah, Cathy, Ash, and Goodman) from adolescence through middle age, weaving back and forth in time.
The camp is the first place Jules feels she fits in, and she idealizes it and the people she met there – which Macee pointed out shapes the rest of her life. Donna noted that most people long to be a part of a group like this one, which explains why Jules (and other characters) sometimes put loyalty to the group above doing the right thing. Liz observed that many of us felt this way as teenagers – that our group of friends are the only people who understand.
The book is also about talent and success. We all noted that (like us and like many people) the teenage Interestings define artistic achievement as success, but later, use wealth and security to compare themselves to others. Some people’s talents are stolen from them by manipulation; others just don’t make it at their art. Some characters get the chance to answer the question “what might have been?” and some don’t. In some ways, Liz pointed out, the book is about the value of living an ordinary life – one character, near the end of the novel, exclaims, “Most people aren’t talented. So what are they supposed to do – kill themselves?”
We all mentioned Meg Wolitzer’s writing as a factor in our reading enjoyment. Donna talked about the raw, honest emotions that came out in authentic-sounding conversations between people who have known each other for years. Macee appreciated the vivid descriptions, and the way the novel seamlessly moved from past to present and back again. While it took some of us longer to get engaged with the plot than others, we were all hooked soon, and all finished it within two weeks.
-Review by: Donna Bacchiocchi, Manager of Technical Services; Macee Damon, Reference/Catalog Librarian; and Liz Galoozis, Reference Librarian/Research Instruction Coordinator
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Six summers ago (July 26, 2007 to be exact) the Bentley Library Book Buzz site launched its first book review to promote the library’s Popular Reading collection. Over the years, library staff have posted their reviews about the books and audiobooks in the collection on Book Buzz. Though popular titles come and go, we’ve generally kept the books that have been reviewed and added them to our stacks. We’ve built quite a collection and the display from July 16 through August 26 will feature highlights from our Book Buzz site. Visit our display in the entryway on the Library’s main floor or check out our display on Pinterest!
Want to share your opinion? Visit the individual Book Buzz review to post a comment and tell the world what you thought of one the books our staff has reviewed.
Caught a case of reviewing fever? We’d love to hear from you. Write a review of any of our print or audio titles in the Popular Reading Collection or any of the e-book or e-audio titles in OverDrive. Guidelines are available here.