Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
03/24/2011 - 3:30am
Bless This Mouse

Bless This Mouse, by Lois Lowry, is the heartwarming chronicle of the mice of St. Bartholomew’s Church. This community of church mice, led by Mouse Mistress Hildegarde, tries to live quietly, avoiding the notice of Father Murphy, the Altar Guild and other people of the parish. But as they consider preparations for the annual Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis, which means cats in the church, they face an even bigger danger. They’ve been spotted. That means the Great X, something they fear even more than cats.

Hildegarde shepherds her charges on an adventure into the outdoors with the help of her friend and supporter, Roderick, and a former college library mouse named Ignatius. The characters are lively and well-developed from the ditzy mouse mother having her litters in the most inappropriate places to jealous Lucretia who envies HIldegarde her position as Mouse Mistress. Rohmann’s charming and whimsical illustrations bring the characters to life. 
03/25/2011 - 1:23pm
This Must Be the Place by Kat Racculia

Amy Henderson could not wait to leave Ruby Falls, New York, and start her life in This Must Be the Place, by Kate Racculia.  She wants to go to Los Angeles and make monsters—her hero is Ray Harryhausen, talented maker of special effects with stop-action animation and creator of the Kraken in the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. But like many a movie monster, Amy Henderson leaves disaster in her wake.

Amy does get to make monsters, but she dies at 31 of a freak electrical accident on a movie set. She leaves her totally devastated husband Arthur, a pink shoebox full of memorabilia of her life and a postcard with a cryptic message addressed to her best friend Desdemona Jones in Ruby Falls. Amy writes that she left the best of herself there. Arthur makes a journey to find out the secrets in Amy’s life. What hadn’t she told him? What else didn’t he know about his wife?
 
03/22/2011 - 3:31am
The Thirteenth Tale

Do you thrive on books that keep you guessing to the last page? Does a dark novel set your heart racing with anticipation? Then let me recommend The Thirteenth Tale. But to achieve the optimal reading experience, schedule time on a day when the sky is an ominous shade of gray, an angry wind howls outside your window and your electricity flickers haphazardly. The moment is then prime to open your copy of Diane Setterfield’s debut offering.

Margaret Lea lives a solitary, sheltered life working in her father’s bookstore. Her greatest pleasure lies in surrounding herself with books, both rare and commonplace. She also dabbles in compiling short biographies of obscure but deceased individuals. Out of the blue, Margaret receives a mysterious letter from Vida Winter, one of England’s most cherished writers. Her request is that Margaret document her life story.

Unfamiliar with Winter’s novels, Margaret tentatively reads one title, only to find she’s unable to stop until completing the author’s entire collection of works. She agrees to visit Winter. The elderly writer has apparently fabricated exotic tales about herself over the years, but with only a short time to live, she now wants the truth told.

03/21/2011 - 8:09am
Revolution Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, spans both time and social status. In the present there is Andi, a musical prodigy who is about to get kicked out of her prestigious New York City school. She’s mad at her father for the divorce and at her mother for retreating into her own private shell. But mostly she’s in pain over the death of her younger brother, for which she blames herself.

In the past there’s Alexandrine, living through the bloody days of the French Revolution. Alex is a struggling actor who serves as nanny to Louis-Charles, the lost prince of France, and an unwilling spy for Duc d’Orleans.
03/18/2011 - 9:16am
The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

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.

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman is a wonderful look at the world. Here are a few titles, which you may enjoy, that deal with global business, the world, and its future.
 

Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” by Samuel P. Huntington
Huntington here extends the provocative thesis he laid out in a recent (and influential) Foreign Affairs essay: we should view the world not as bipolar, or as a collection of states, but as a set of seven or eight cultural "civilizations"?one in the West, several outside it?fated to link and conflict in terms of that civilizational identity. Thus, in sweeping but dry style, he makes several vital points: modernization does not mean Westernization; economic progress has come with a revival of religion; post-Cold War politics emphasize ethnic nationalism over ideology; the lack of leading "core states" hampers the growth of Latin America and the world of Islam. Most controversial will be Huntington's tough-minded view of Islam. Not only does he point out that Muslim countries are involved in far more intergroup violence than others, he argues that the West should worry not about Islamic fundamentalism but about Islam itself, "a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. From Publisher’s Weekly
 

The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What it Means for All of Us” by Robyn Meredith
Meredith, a foreign correspondent, describes the global power shift occurring in India and in China as computers continue to change the way business is conducted. The U.S. and Europe have lost both low- and high-paying jobs to these countries, and there are other factors at play, such as the unquenchable global thirst for oil and massive environmental issues. ]his is a complicated story because as jobs are lost, cheap goods are being imported and sold at low prices to American consumers, and some retailers' stock prices are rising, to the benefit of workers' 401K accounts. The author notes, "In this decade, a dear pattern emerged: China became factory to the world, the United States became buyer to the world, and India began to become back office to the world." In this thought-provoking and well-researched book, the author advises that the U.S. must strengthen its education system, promote innovation, forget about protectionism or unfettered free markets, and focus on creating jobs. From Booklist
 

07/06/2011 - 10:31am
Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow

Jimi Hendrix was an iconic force in rock and roll.  His name is synonymous with music.  In the book Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, author Gary Golio introduces us to the young Jimi.  The book begins in 1956 in Seattle, Washington, where Jimi was living with his father.  They were not wealthy, but Jimi's father recognized that his son had a love for music.  Jimi often practiced on his one-string ukele.  With it he recreated the sounds the raindrops made as they hit the roof and the windowpanes.  Even as a very young boy he interpreted the city sounds that he heard outside the boardinghouse where he lived with his Dad and turned them into melodies.