Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
07/22/2014 - 9:27am
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood have been offered a chance to solve the mystery of The Screaming Staircase. If they complete their task, it will get their ghost detecting agency out of serious debt. If they fail, they will lose everything ... including their lives.

07/17/2014 - 3:00am
11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

11 Experiments That Failed is as hilarious as it is messy. Author Jenny Offill and artist Nancy Carpenter combine their talents as one young scientist stretches the limits of curiousity—and her mother's patience!

Offill tells her story through questions, hypotheses, and results, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative blanks. 

Question: Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?

Hypothesis: Ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs.

What Happened: Stomachache. Brain freeze. Love of ketchup wavering.

07/16/2014 - 3:00am
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 follows the story of Vic McQueen, or "The Brat" as her father affectionately calls her, who happens to be a special little girl. While some children are fast readers, and others are good at a sport from a young age, Vic has the talent for finding lost things. Whether it’s a bracelet, a doll, or a missing photo, she can just hop on her bike, and her magic “covered bridge” takes her wherever it is that she needs to go. At first she takes her little trips to escape her volatile home life. However, over the course of her adventures, Vic soon discovers that she isn't the only person with such a talent—and not everyone with these abilities is nice.

07/15/2014 - 3:00am
Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Sylvie and her sister live far away from everybody else in an abandoned subdivision. Sylvie kind of likes it that way because of the gossip. There was even gossip before their parents were murdered, especially after the book came out about their ghost-busting ways. The stuff they kept in the basement. The exorcisms. The tell-all Help for the Haunted was full of way-too-personal details.

07/14/2014 - 3:00am
Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Lucia is furious with her father. As paterfamilias, head of his Roman household, gladiator-trainer Lucius has chosen her rich husband for her. Lucia fumes to herself that aged, grumpy Vitulus would do very well as a grandfather--but not as her bridegroom! Their loathsome, formal dinner together is cut short by the sounds of a cracking whip and the rumblings of the Earth. Somewhere nearby a slave is being punished, Mount Vesuvius is gathering strength to explode. Vicky Alvear Shecter’s romantic novel, Curses and Smoke, is set in Pompeii's dangerous last days when anything, even forbidden love, might be possible.

07/11/2014 - 10:04am
If You Like The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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.

The Life of Pi is the winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. "Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?" (Book Description)

If you liked The Life of Pi, here are a few titles that you may find equally thought-provoking:

Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father's wisdom, and in his mother's Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul.  (Catalog summary)

 

Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
Visualizing a village, a hotel or an apartment building as a microcosm of society is not a new concept to writers, but few have invested their fiction with such luminous language, insight into character and grasp of cultural construct as Suri does in his debut. The inhabitants of a small apartment building in Bombay are motivated by concerns ranging from social status to spiritual transcendence while their alcoholic houseboy, Vishnu, lies dying on the staircase landing. During a span of 24 hours, Vishnu's body becomes the fulcrum for a series of crises, some tragic, some farcical, that reflect both the folly and nobility of human conduct....By turns charming and funny, searing and poignant, dramatic and farcical, this fluid novel is an irresistible blend of realism, mysticism and religious metaphor, a parable of the universal conditions of human life. (Nicole Aragi, Publishers Weekly)