Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Thu, 05/09/2013 - 3:31am
Stopping to Home by Lea Wait

On a cold, March day in 1806, Abbie and Seth lost their beloved mother to the smallpox epidemic that was ripping through the town of Wiscasset, Maine. Without food or wood for the fire, the children were in terrible trouble. They could hear the bell tolling for the dead—so many times for a man, so many for a woman, so many for a child. But how many for a missing father? In Lea Wait’s Stopping to Home, the only hope the brother and sister have to survive is that someone in that stricken town will take them in, if only for a little while.

Fri, 02/26/2016 - 4:34pm
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

Enough with the zombies, already! Before the undead purportedly trod the moors of Georgian England, it was a relatively pleasant, safe place—albeit humming with an occasional murder and talk of international intrigue. Certainly that should be quite enough to keep a heroine’s attention.  Indeed when Jane Austen’s friend Isobel becomes a friend in need upon the suspicious death of her new though elderly husband, it is up to quick-witted Jane to save her life—and reputation!-- in Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, by Stephanie Barron.

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 9:34am
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

During the early 90s, it became fashionable in some contexts to try to rewrite or downplay aspects of older stories that would be considered sexist, racist, or bigoted in a modern context.  Although well-meaning in its intent, this concept ended up creating a great many revisionist versions of old stories that had a tendency to lose the original context of the tales with a newfound preoccupation on social issues.  James Finn Garner parodied this trend in two mid-90s collections of short stories, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Once Upon a More Enlightened Time.  These two novella-length collections are composed of parodies of classic fairy tales with plots and characters reinterpreted in a “politically correct” style.  Although the amount of laughs each “bedtime story” generates are uneven, the best of the stories make for entertaining, quick reads that will amuse readers looking for subversive wit.

Fri, 02/26/2016 - 12:28pm
Teens Cook by Megan and Jilll Carle

I have a teen daughter who loves to cook. She started baking things on her own as soon as she could safely operate the oven, and her favorite gift to date was the electric skillet her chef aunt gave to her one Christmas so she could start making pancakes. Eventually, she became interested in preparing complete meals, but my cooking books didn't really appeal to her. She was looking for a guide that would instruct her through doable - yet appealing - meals. Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by sisters Megan and Jill Carle fit the bill perfectly.

Fri, 05/03/2013 - 9:46am
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen: "Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence."

If you enjoyed this title, here are some other novels you may also enjoy:

Deep Down True by Juliette Fay
Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice--even to telemarketers--but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad's departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn't end in middle school...and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity (catalog description)

Faith by Jennifer Haigh
Sheila McGann is estranged from her complicated family. But when her older brother Art, pastor of a large suburban parish, finds himself at the center of a scandal, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him. Her strict mother lives in a state of angry denial; her younger brother Mike has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself. (catalog description)


Fri, 02/26/2016 - 4:29pm
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is a gentle, wondrous Chinese fantasy book for children. Set in a long-ago times, it follows a brave and bright girl named Minli who lives with her parents in a poor farming village. There is barely enough rice to keep them fed and certainly not any for luxuries. Most all the people are downtrodden and worried about their daily lives, but not Minli. She does not like the hard work in the sticky, muddy rice fields, but every evening she can look forward to stories told by her beloved father.

These tales fill her heart and her mind in such a way that she becomes the most radiant and hopeful young girl living near Fruitless Mountain. Indeed, she is so hopeful that when a peddler comes to their village with bowls of lucky goldfish, she takes her small savings to buy one, with high expectations. But when no luck seems to come and her father starts sharing his small supper with the hungry fish, Minli knows she must let it go. Releasing it into the Jade River, a river created according to legend from the body of a grieving dragon, she is surprised when a sweet, high-pitched voice—the goldfish!—offers to help her find her fortune by telling her the way to Never-Ending-Mountain where lives the Old Man of the Moon. The Old Man knows all things, including how her family’s fortune might be changed.