Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
07/20/2011 - 3:31am
The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted

Grief is a love story told backwards.

Heidi is no strangers to loss. She almost lost her mother as a child; she lost a baby. Two years ago Heidi lost her husband Henry, and she has been lost ever since. She is a gifted pastry chef who cannot even bake a cake for her sister’s wedding. The world has moved on but she has not. She is literally grief-stricken. She cannot explain to her now anxious germ-phobic son Abbott how in one moment your safe world can change suddenly and irrevocably. In The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, Bridget Asher captures Heidi’s sadness and her path back to love with great empathy, gentle humor and vivid imagery. The novel is sweet without being sappy and great for the armchair traveler to Provence.

07/19/2011 - 8:16am
Robopocalypse

My first thought upon reading the description of Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse was "Terminator rip-off."  But I kept thinking, "Robots and the apocalypse, two of my favorite things to read about in fiction."  I'm not making that up.  And really, anything after Terminator 2 in the franchise doesn't, in my mind, count.  I've always wanted a lot more detail about how the robot uprising occurs and how people struggle in the coming war, especially people who are not John Connor.  After reading Robopocalypse, I want to assure you that it is as far removed from Terminator lore as anything "robot apocalypse" could possibly be.  If you're someone who likes to be frightened and enjoys books where the mundane is made decidedly strange, then you might enjoy Robopocalypse.

07/18/2011 - 8:34am
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is an example of dystopian young adult fiction at its best! It takes place in a Chicago of the future--in a world that has been rebuilt after society collapsed. In an attempt to avoid the problems of the past, this new Chicago society is divided into five factions - Dauntless (bravery), Amity (friendship), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (truth), and Abnegation (selflessness). Each faction follows a strict code of conduct; each has its own ideals; and each has its own role in governing the new society. At the age of 16, every person throughout the city must go through a simulation designed to show him or her which faction would be most suitable to join.

07/15/2011 - 1:50pm
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

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.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: "At stake is the future of English magic, which has nearly dwindled to all theory by the early 1800s, after centuries of prominence. When the book opens, only the reclusive and jealous Gilbert Norrell is practicing. Enter Jonathan Strange, a natural who has never studied magic formally. Norrell resents, then adopts Strange as a pupil whose growth he insists on controlling until the two come to the impasse that nearly leads them to destroy one another. Strange champions the 12th century's "Raven King" as the greatest magician in English history and hopes to summon him from Faerie, an alternate world. Norrell is determined to erase both from English memory-to hide the fact that he himself made a bargain with a fairy that has cost three people their lives, though their hearts go on dismally beating." (School Library Journal) 

If you liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark, you might like the following titles:

Susanna Clark suggests these authors/titles:

"Comparisons with other books are useful as rough guidelines for readers. If you like Harry Potter/Jane Austen/The Quincunx/Instance of the Fingerpost, then maybe you'll like this - or maybe you won't. Readers are very sharp people - they'll know how to take such claims." (see here for a full interview)

The Alchemist's Door by Lisa Goldstein
"Scientist, mathematician, and court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee is also one of the sixteenth-century's most renowned alchemists, driven by a passion to fathom the elemental secrets of the cosmos. But when his reckless assistant, Edward Kelley, succeeds in using a crystal sphere to summon angels, Dee is catapulted into an awesome struggle that may extinguish the light of reason forever." -- summary from the catalog

 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
"Just released from prison, Shadow encounters Mr. Wednesday, an enigmatic stranger who seems to know a lot about him, and when Mr. Wednesday offers him a job as his bodyguard, Shadow accepts and is plunged into a dark and perilous world."-summary from the catalog

 

 

07/14/2011 - 3:31am
Boys Against Girls

Does your town have an elusive creature called an abaguchie roaming around and causing trouble? The abaguchie is the local legend in the town of Buckman, West Virginia. Ever since the Malloy girls moved across the street from the Hatford boys it has been a constant war of practical jokes and attempts at humiliating the other. The Hatford boys Jake, Josh, Wally and Peter just cannot stand Eddie, Beth and Caroline Malloy and want them to go back to Ohio. They scheme and plot in order to make the Malloy girls hate Buckman. However, the Malloy girls do not take this lying down and vow to get even.

The newest Hatford scheme is actually a town legend and that is the abaguchie. No one in Buckman has actually gotten a good look at the abaguchie but things mysteriously disappear when a townsperson has claimed to have seen it. The Hatford’s use the legend of the abaguchie to scare the Malloy girls and it is a running theme throughout the book.

07/13/2011 - 3:31am
Mermaids in the Basement

 Michael Lee West’s Mermaids in the Basement finds screenwriter Renata DeChavannes grieving from the recent loss of her mother and stepfather in an airplane crash. She retreats to her family home in the Outer Banks where she eats uncontrollably. While she is buying her movie-producer boyfriend a sweater in a little clothing store, she happens to see the tabloid article telling that her absent love is rumored to be dating his latest movie’s star in faraway Dublin.

Devastated, her drinking, too, begins to get out of control. One night, a drunken Renata has a beach bonfire and burns her manuscript. When she wakes up not knowing what she has done, she looks through all of her drawers to find it but instead discovers a letter from her mother instructing her to contact her paternal grandmother in order to find out the stories of her mother’s “dirty deeds.”