Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
04/03/2014 - 1:34pm
Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.

05/11/2011 - 3:32am
Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog

"We have no dinosaur, it says on a hand-lettered sign outside a farm that puts on rattlesnake rodeos."

                                                                                                                                                                             --Werner Herzog

To find pleasure in  Conquest of the Useless, you must have at least a passing familiarity with the filmmaker Werner Herzog. Herzog has been writing and directing films for five decades, but only a few of his movies have broken into the American mainstream. The most well known here are the documentary Grizzly Man and the Vietnam War film Rescue Dawn (starring Christian Bale).

Each of Herzog's works oozes with a mood of effortless intensity, as if he has summoned the stress and obsessions of humanity like moths to a flame. Whether it's Timothy Treadwell (Grizzly Man's protagonist, who lived with and was inevitably eaten by bears) or Nosferatu (from Herzog's 1979 remake), the director is singular in his subjects' driven focus on their goals and desire, no matter how self-destructive they may be.

07/06/2011 - 10:27am
Debt-Free U book cover image

If there was one thing that people across the country could agree on right now, it would be the ridiculously high cost of today’s college education. Most parents assume that student loans are a fact of life, and most students assume that student loan debt is a necessary and even positive thing. If you want to get a good job, it’s commonly thought that going to a good college (chosen in part by U.S. News and World Report rankings) and getting a good name on your diploma simply costs money and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Enter Zac Bissonnette. Twenty-one, college student, and an art history major. So what knowledge does he have that the rest of us--and many other experts--do not? Well, as the subtitle of Debt-Free U suggests, Zac paid for his college education, “without loans, scholarships, or mooching off [his] parents.” And you can, too. Because, as it turns out, Zac might know what he’s talking about. He is a writer and editor with AOL Money & Finance, has written for the Boston Globe, appeared on CNN, and has the financial savvy and banking portfolio of someone several times his age.
05/09/2011 - 3:30am
The Sky Is Everywhere

Lennie, a 17-year-old bookworm and band geek, has always walked, safe and happy, in the shadow of her dynamic older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is left to cope with life in this intense debut novel The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.

Even through her grief, Lennie, who’s barely had a boyfriend before, finds herself drawn toward two completely different guys. The first is Bailey’s boyfriend, who is also suffering from the loss. Lennie and Toby both recognize that their relationship is wrong, but can’t seem to stop themselves. And then there’s Joe, the new kid in school, who just moved here from Paris and who helps Lennie forget her pain with his beautiful smile and musical talent. Music plays a major part in the story, bringing them together with Joe even nicknaming her John Lennon. Meanwhile, Lennie is eaten up with guilt over hooking up with Toby. Wearing her dead sister’s clothes and dating her boyfriend seems to keep Bailey alive. Only with each other can they share their true feelings of sadness.
05/10/2011 - 1:32pm
If you like books by Patricia Cornwell

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.

Patricia Cornwell writes crime novels and is known especially for her series featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner. Her book Postmortem, which is the first novel to feature Dr. Scarpetta, won a slew of awards, including the Edgar Award and the Macavity Award for best first mystery.

If you like books by Patricia Cornwell, here are some other books and authors that you might like:

The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag
Last seen in bestseller Hoag's Dark Horse, Elena Estes, a former undercover cop turned PI, is devastated at the start of this captivating thriller when she realizes a body she finds in a south Florida canal is that of her friend Irina Markova, a beautiful groom with whom she once worked at a horse stable. Assisted by ex-lover Det. James Landry, the tough-as-nails Elena immerses herself in Irina's murder investigation.
One of the suspects happens to be Bennett Walker, the ex-fiancé Elena hasn't seen in 20 years, who was previously tried and acquitted of rape and attempted murder despite her testimony against him. The suspense builds when Elena learns that Bennett is a member of the Alibi Club, a group of wealthy Palm Beach "bad boys" who cover for each other when trouble befalls them. Elena believes she can trust no one, especially after Russian mobster Alexi Kulak insists that Elena help him unearth Irina's killer.  (Publishers Weekly)

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
A call to examine a skull found in a hidden floor space plunges forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan into a case that may involve ritual murder.  (Catalog description)

 

 

05/05/2011 - 9:14am

In Jacqueline Davies’ The Lemonade War, Jessie Treski and her brother Evan have a pretty good relationship…usually. But when Evan finds out that Jessie will be skipping third grade and will share his fourth-grade classroom, he gets pretty angry. It’s bad enough that his sister gets all the good grades, but now she is going to mess up things with his friends as well. His anger grows…and grows…and then he explodes, saying awful things to her that he knows he will regret later. Jessie responds and their argument swells until they make a wager with high odds, all riding on who can sell the most lemonade in the last five days before school starts.