Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
08/02/2011 - 6:00am
Tories

Multiple-choice standards of learning tests are not concerned with the details that fill out American history. Who wants to know that those who disagreed with the Revolutionary patriots risked their lives and fortunes in a time of mob rule? What state examiner wants to hear tales of men of honor who refused to break their oaths of loyalty to the king and were whipped, tarred and feathered, or "smoked out" of their homes, as happened to 65-year-old Israel Williams, a respected Loyalist legislator, whose signature in support of the rebel cause was only gained after a night of gasping for air inside his smoky home? In Thomas B. Allen's Tories, many of these stories from across the colonies are well-preserved and well-told so that they might be well-remembered.

08/01/2011 - 2:30am
The Absolute Value of Mike

The main character of the book The Absolute Value of Mike, by Kathryn Erskine, is the son of a brilliant but absent-minded mathematician.  Mike takes care of everything around the house.  He pays the bills and handles all the day-to-day activities of the household.   Although Mike's father is a mathematician, Mike suffers from a condition called dyscalculia, meaning that he has an inablity to process math problems.  Mike's father wants him to become an engineer, a career which requires a lot of math.  Mike does not want to disappoint his father, but he struggles with math because of his dyscalculia.  He doesn't know how to tell his father that he does not want to be an engineer.

Mike learns that his father is going to Romania for work, and that he will not be going with him.  The plan is to send Mike to live with his Great Aunt Moo and Great Uncle Poppy in Pennsylvania.  Mike has never met them, and he is not happy about this arrangement.  Upon his arrival  Mike soon realizes that Poppy and Moo need his help more than he needs theirs.  Poppy and Moo are living from Social Security check to Social Security check.  Their home is in disrepair, and they are terrible at managing their finances. 

07/29/2011 - 2:30am
Minion by L.A. Banks

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.

Minion: A Vampire Huntress Legend by L.A. Banks: "Damali Richards has taken on vampires before, but whatever is behind the brutal murders that have captured the attention of police is beyond anything she has encountered before." (Book description)

If you like Minion by L.A. Banks, you may enjoy these titles. Some are by African American authors, some have African American characters, and all feature some type of paranormal angle.

Blood Colony by Tananarive Due
There's a new drug on the street: Glow. Said to heal almost any illness, its main ingredient is blood--the blood of immortals. A small but powerful underground railroad of immortals is distributing the blood, slowly wiping out the AIDS epidemic. But the Glow peddlers are being murdered by a violent, hundred-year-old sect with ties to the Vatican.
And the only immortal born with the Living Blood is being hunted to fulfill an ancient blood prophecy that could lead to countless deaths.-catalog summary
 

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
The rich and the privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways -- farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets.
With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.-catalog summary
 

07/28/2011 - 9:39am
Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

Greetings, brave adventurers! So you are looking for uncharted territory to claim and conquer, eh? You've already climbed the highest peaks and had lunch in the craters of the moon. So, where do you go next to do your exploring? Look no further than this hidden gem. This is a land of mystery and danger, a land of wonder and fright, a land with Tyrannosaurs, tentacled creatures, and scariest of all....toll booths. Behold, Delaware!

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware is part of M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril series, a highly absurdist take on children's detective and adventure series of decades past, the most obvious being Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, and Tom Swift. The title character of this particular book is the star of his own fictional series that has fallen into obscurity. Just looking at Jasper Dash, you can see that he's from another time. Aviator goggles perched atop a perfectly parted swath of blonde hair. And that's when he opens his mouth and 19th-century slang falls out: "Hello, chums...What-ho and tippy tippy dingle and all."

07/27/2011 - 10:21am
A Game of Thrones

When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.  In George R.R. Martin’s rich fantasy, King Robert of the House of Baratheon wins the game by defeating the Old Dynasty, the House of Tagaryen, but as his best friend, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell’s family motto states, Winter is Coming, and things are changing.  Robert was a better soldier than king so the House of Lannister threatens his power, and a civil war breaks out. Jaime Lannister fights with his brawn, and his brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, with his wit.

Martin’s characters are not black and white; he goes back to Sir Thomas Malory, where even Lancelot, the role model for chivalry, has deep, fatal flaws. Stark is an honest man, yet he does not know whom to trust and endangers himself and his family.  If you love fantasy combined with the Arthurian legend of knights and chivalry and an added twist of Machiavellian political intrigue, this book is for you. The magical elements of the godswoods, the dragon eggs, and the evil beings lurking the wilds of the north add an air of mystery and the supernatural to the novel.

07/26/2011 - 7:49am
Patient Zero cover

Recently when I went to the beach I took Patient Zero with me to read.  While I sat in stopped traffic, motorcyclists weaved in and out, roaring past us laughing.  My first thought was, “That is SO illegal! I hate you!” But my next thought was, “They are going to get to the beach long before we do, and they are having more fun doing it this way.”  If Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero were a vehicle it would be one of those motorcycles roaring past the stopped cars.  The action is fast and furious from the beginning to the very last page of the book.

Chapter One introduces Joe Ledge--a modern day Rambo. 

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there’s either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world.

And there’s nothing wrong with my skills.