Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
06/05/2012 - 3:30am
Putting Family First

Halfway through this spring, during a week of practically living out of our minivan and eating dinners on the run due to a parade of soccer games, drama rehearsals, and tae kwon do practices, I said to myself, “Enough. I want to get off this ride!” I picked up Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World, by William Doherty and Barbara Carlson, and devoured it in the next 2 days. Doherty and Carlson first trace the evolution of the overscheduling of today's kids and then provide concrete steps for reclaiming family time. I found myself nodding along to almost every chapter and came away with some great suggestions for how to streamline our outside commitments and reconnect as a family.

Doherty points out there are positive reasons why kids are busier today - like more opportunities to choose from - but also several that are negative, like more intense sports schedules, fear that children will be left behind if they don’t engage from an early age, and parental guilt due to long work schedules. Whatever the reasons, Doherty stresses that the end result is that “the adult world of hypercompetition and marketplace values has invaded the family.” What to do about it? The first step is to slow down and reconnect over family meals, optimally four times a week or more. The second is to reclaim bedtime as a soothing ritual. And the third step is to look critically at the schedule, cut back on outside obligations, and find time to “hang out as a family.”

06/04/2012 - 3:30am
The Returning by Christine Hinwood

In Christine Hinwood’s The Returning, the war between the Uplanders and the Downlanders is over. But everyone in the village of Kayforl is still struggling with the after effects. Cam returns home from the fighting maimed and struggles to make a new life for himself. But his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is broken off by her father.

06/01/2012 - 6:21am

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.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: "The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life ... and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire ... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives." (Book summary)

If you enjoyed Outlander,  you may enjoy these other historical romances with strong characters or time-traveling novels:

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . . An alluring laird... He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart-until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length-but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve. A prisoner in time... She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side. . . .  (Catalog summary)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
"A fisherman's daughter in 1930s Japan rises to become a famous geisha. After training, Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder, then the school finds her a general for a patron. When he dies, she is reunited with the only man she loved."-catalog summary


 

05/31/2012 - 7:56am
Crashers cover

A patron called me this week to say that he loved Crashers, by Dana Haynes, so much that he didn’t even want to stop the audio book to go to sleep at night!  That is an excellent endorsement!  He wanted more books by this author, and we found out that this was the debut novel of Dana Haynes.

It is about an airliner that crashes outside of Portland, Oregon, and a team of experts assembled to investigate the cause of the crash. Some of the members of the team are: Kiki Duvall, a “sonar witch”--a recorder specialist who can hear things that other people cannot; John Roby, a former cop and bomb expert; Walter Mulroney who can build any plane given the right number of bolts; engineer Peter Kim, pilot  and former F.B.I. agent Isaiah Grey; pathologist Tommy Tomzak; and the leader,  Susan Tanaka who is an intergovernmental liason.  They soon discover that this plane crash was no accident--it was a trial run. 

05/30/2012 - 3:31am
Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On!

I loved my Southern Mama and my Southern Grandma, so when I found Suck in Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On! I knew that I would love it, too.  It is chock full of wisdom from mothers across the South--plus a running commentary by the author which is hysterical!

There are such wonderful pearls of wisdom as:

"My mom’s advice on raising children:  ‘If it washes off or grows out, it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Don’t worry about it!’”

“Mama said, ‘Just because it fits doesn’t mean you oughta wear it.’”

“My mama told me ladies never answered the door barefoot!”

“My grandmother advised me to marry a man my age or a little younger, ‘because they don’t improve with age.’  I now know what she meant.’”

05/29/2012 - 8:00am
Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Louise Yates

Young Fredle grows up repeatedly hearing the rules about how mice behave. Sometimes it seems like life between the walls of the kitchen is nothing but rules. One of the most important rules is that mice don’t change. But that doesn’t dampen Fredle’s curiosity and sense of adventure. Finally, his mother’s predictions come true, and his curious nature and sweet tooth get Fredle in deep trouble. And so Fredle finds himself Outside.