Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
01/25/2011 - 12:10pm
Juliet by Fortier

We are all familiar with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. We also remember the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Finally, I’d be willing to bet that many of you know the Bard’s famous play was set in Verona, Italy. However, here are a few facts that might surprise you. Shakespeare’s telling was the culmination of several previous versions by various other authors. The original lovers were Giuletta Tolomei and Romeo Marescotti. There was, indeed, bad blood between the families, and the tale was set in Siena, not Verona. In a new telling, Anne Fortier’s Juliet alternates between a 20th-century pairing of Guiletta and Romeo and their 15th-century alter egos.

Julie Jacobs’ father perishes in an unexplained fire. Two years later, her mother dies in a suspicious auto accident. Fearing harm to toddler Julie and her twin sister Janice, their Aunt Rose whisks the children from Italy to the United States. Together with her live-in assistant Umberto, she raises the girls but for years avoids discussing anything related to the twins’ parents and their untimely demise.

01/25/2011 - 10:51am
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group.  In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around.  Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her.  They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings.  Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group.  She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions.  While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped.  There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.

01/21/2011 - 8:53am
Books by Terry Goodkind

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. 

Terry Goodkind is a popular fantasy writer who wrote the bestselling series, The Sword of Truth. This is the story of "Richard Cypher, a modest woodsman in a world achingly beautiful, alive with the joys of nature: a world the reader comes to love as fiercely as do Richard and those around him. Though a mere woodsman, he is the one destined to battle the ultimate adversary - Darken Rahl, an evil mage who bids to destroy all that Richard holds good and beautiful, dooming him and the rest of the people of Westland to a living Hell of subjugation and degradation." (Goodreads)

If you like books by Terry Goodkind, you may also like these:

Celtika by Robert Holdstock
Centuries before he meets Arthur, Merlin wanders the earth, eternally young, a traveler on the path of magic and learning. During his journeys he encounters Jason, and joins his search for the Golden Fleece. It is a decision that will cost him dear... Hundreds of years later, Merlin hears of a screaming ship in a northern lake, and divines that it is the
Argo ... that Jason still screams out for his sons, stolen by the enchantress Medea and thought dead."-catalog summary
 

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
This book starts a series that offers satisfying characters and lots of action. "Betrayed by an unknown enemy into slavery, former soldier and courtier Lupe dy Cazaril escapes his bondage and returns to the royal household he once served. Entrusted with the teaching of the sister to the heir to the throne of Chalion, Cazaril finds himself drawn into a
tangled web of politics and dark magic as he battles a curse that threatens the lives and souls of a family he has come to love." (Library Journal)
 

01/20/2011 - 4:31am
The Long Winter

The constant beating of the winds against the house, the roaring, shrieking, howling of the storm, made it hard even to think. It was possible only to wait for the storm to stop. All the time, while they ground wheat, twisted hay, kept the fire burning in the stove, and huddled over it to thaw their chapped, numb hands and their itching, burning, chilblained feet, and while they chewed and swallowed the coarse bread, they were all waiting until the storm stopped.

It did not stop during the third day or the third night. In the fourth morning it was still blowing fiercely.
“No sign of a letup,” Pa said when he came in from the stable. “This is the worst yet.”
 
On the television series Little House on the Prairie, the sun is almost always shining—not surprising since it was filmed in Simi Valley, California. On television, the weather was hardly ever a problem. The TV stories are usually about how people interact with each other. But in the books, the Ingalls family was up against much more than that mean Nellie Oleson. The Long Winter of 1880-1881 begins with family on their South Dakota homestead, bringing in the hay crop on a lazy August day when all seems well.
01/19/2011 - 11:23am
One Amazing Thing by C. B. Divakaruni

Do you ever wonder how you might react under extreme duress? Would you rise to the occasion and become an example to those struggling around you or would you withdraw and cower in fear? In One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, nine everyday men and women are put to that exact test as their lives change over the course of one disastrous event.

In advance of a planned trip to India, the above-mentioned people—most solo, but several in pairs—have all chosen this day to go to the consulate in California to obtain a travel visa. As with many bureaucratic departments, the wait is interminable. Graduate student Uma is preparing to visit her parents who have recently moved back to India. In her irritation with the long delay, she ignores the first slight rumble. The second quake, however, rips apart what was only seconds earlier a solid building.

01/18/2011 - 10:29am
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Alternating from biography to science, Rebecca Skloot in writing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks avoids sentimentality and making judgments.

Skloot, a science journalist, tells the story of Henrietta and her DNA.  The subject was born Loretta Pleasant—nobody knows how her name became Henrietta—Lacks, in a family known to marry their first cousins in the now-razed town of slave cabins and tobacco farms named Clover near Roanoke, Virginia. She married her first cousin, David ‘Day’ Lacks, moved to Baltimore to work in a plant riddled with asbestos.  Her husband's  unfaithfulness gave her both neurosyphilis and gonorrhea. Her environment, poverty and lack of education made her the tragic heroine of a great scientific experiment. Henrietta Lack's deadly cervical cancer cells—taken without her consent—were the first to be grown and then thrive in a lab. HeLa cells, still growing today sixty years after her death, would weigh in total more than 50 metric tons.