Shelf Life Blog

04/23/2018 - 11:46am
Cover to The Devil's Company by David Liss

Benjamin Weaver, retired prize fighter and now professional thief-taker, is back in action on the streets of 18th-century London. What seemed a simple job—cheating a card cheat—turns nightmarish when Weaver discovers he’s the one who has been rooked in David Liss' The Devil’s Company. The mysterious and wealthy Mr. Jerome Cobb has a very dangerous plan in which Weaver is an essential player. His physical skills, intelligence, connections, and indeed his very character are necessary to make the plan a success.

No one else will do, and in order to secure his cooperation, Cobb and his cronies have drawn a diabolical net around those Weaver holds dear. The Devil's Company referred to in the title is none other than the terrifically wealthy East India Trading Company. Their near monopoly on imports of tea, fabrics, and other luxury items began more than 100 years before this story opens in 1722, and it is this fortress-like institution that Weaver must infiltrate.

04/20/2018 - 9:26am
If you like the TV series Westworld

This readalike is in response to a customer'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 other book matches here.

Westworld, HBO TV Series (2017-)
A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin—exploring a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. Exploring what it means to be human through the eyes of the lifelike AI "hosts" in the park, the series investigates the boundaries of an exotic world set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past. Meticulously crafted and artfully designed. Westworld offers its guests an unparalleled, immersive world where they have the freedom to become who they've always wanted to be—or who they never knew they were. No rules, no laws, no judgment. Live without limits.

Westworld is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy for HBO. The story takes place in the fictional Westworld, a technologically advanced Wild West-themed amusement park populated by android hosts. Westworld caters to high-paying guests, who may indulge in whatever they wish within the park, without fear of retaliation from the hosts. It is based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by American novelist Michael Crichton, and to a lesser extent on the 1976 sequel Futureworld. It is the second TV series based on the two films, the first being the short-lived 1980 series Beyond Westworld. Nolan and Joy serve as executive producers along with J. J. AbramsJerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk, with Nolan directing the pilot. The first season premiered on October 2, 2016, concluded on December 4, 2016, and consisted of ten episodes. In November 2016, HBO renewed the show for a ten-episode second season, which is set to premiere on April 22, 2018Westworld has received largely positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for the visuals, story, and performances. See the trailer for the second season below.

Here are a few book titles involving technology, the Old West, robots, and dangerous adventures.

04/18/2018 - 9:24am
Cover to Ready, Set, Grow!

Sometimes you want to do more than just dig in the dirt, and a targeted gardening project is an excellent way to develop green thumbs. DK’s gardening book for kids, Ready, Set, Grow! Quick and Easy Gardening Projects, offers some creative and colorful projects that won’t break the bank or send you all around town looking for obscure ingredients. Like all DK books, this one offers wonderful photographs and cheery art, making it a visual feast for the eyes as well. I loved the decorations that we can make out of foil containers, the garden buddy made out of recycled materials, and the “strawberry boot,” made from a pair of old rain boots.

04/16/2018 - 9:03am
Cover to The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

At 5 o'clock in the morning, a curly-headed toddler went missing from his bed in the spacious mansion in the English countryside, never to be seen alive again. Young Saville Kent's soon-to-be-discovered vicious murder at the hands of someone who was surely a family member or trusted servant excited the press, the populace, and the authorities and ultimately drew the attention of one of Scotland Yard's first and finest detectives, Jack Whicher. Like the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Detective Whicher had a keen mind and almost sixth sense for uncovering criminals in the most unlikely places. With no forensics lab modern or otherwise to help him discover the identity of Saville's killer, Whicher used reason and intuition when setting about his task.

04/13/2018 - 9:26am
If you like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This readalike is in response to a customer'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.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” ― Offred, The Handmaid's Tale

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules. 

The Handmaid's Tale is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. It was ordered by streaming service Hulu with a straight-to-series order of 10 episodes, with the production beginning in late 2016. The first three episodes of the series premiered on April 26, 2017, with the subsequent seven episodes added on a weekly basis every Wednesday. In May 2017, it was renewed for a second season to premiere on April 25, 2018. The Handmaid's Tale received widespread critical acclaim and won eight Primetime Emmy Awards from thirteen nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, becoming the first series on a streaming platform to win an Emmy for Outstanding Series. It has also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Drama and Best Actress for Elizabeth Moss, who plays Offred. Check out the season 2's trailer below.

04/23/2018 - 10:38am
George Washington Foundation Lectures

George Washington and his family had strong ties to the Fredericksburg region. Washington was born in Westmoreland County. He spent some of his formative years at Ferry Farm in Stafford County, and his mother, Mary Washington, lived in Fredericksburg the last 17 years of her life, while his sister, Betty, lived at the home now known as Kenmore with her husband, Fielding Lewis.

04/11/2018 - 10:45am
Cover to Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields

When “Baltimore boy” and chef John Shields brought his Chesapeake Bay-style cooking to California years ago, he was urged to write a cookbook about the regional cuisine. Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields is in its 25th anniversary edition now, but its recipes and reminiscences are as fresh as they are delicious.

04/10/2018 - 2:05am
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

Many mysteries have been explained through space exploration, but one remains unanswered: Is there anybody else out there? Let the Curiosity rover guide you through the dusty red planet, while she searches for evidence of other life!

04/09/2018 - 2:04am
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón had many, many pets. She had Bonito the parrot who, like Frida, was as colorful as the house she lived in on 247 Londres Street in the city of Coyoacán, Mexico. In La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo was inspired by her animalitos to create beautiful and imaginative pieces of modern art.

04/04/2018 - 2:01am
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Richard is the perfect husband. He's charming, intelligent, and financially successful. He makes his fiancé Nelly feel safe. But, Richard doesn't know about the strange phone calls Nelly has been receiving, with no one at the other end of the line. He doesn't know about the feeling she's been having, the feeling that she's being watched. 

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