Shelf Life Blog

01/09/2015 - 2:16pm
If you like A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: "Raised in poverty by her unwed epileptic mother and married off early by the rich, elegant father who has always kept her at arm's length, Mariam would seem to have little in common with well-educated and comfortably raised young Laila. Yet their lives intertwine dramatically in this affecting new novel from the author of The Kite Runner, who proves that one can write a successful follow-up after debuting with a phenomenal best seller. As Mariam settles in Kabul with her abusive cobbler husband, smart student Laila falls in love with friend Tariq. But she loses her brothers in the resistance to Soviet dominion and her parents in a bombing just as the family prepares to flee the awful violence. Simply to survive, she becomes the second wife of Mariam's husband and is bitterly resented by the older woman until they are able to form the bond that serves as the heart of this novel. Then the Taliban arrive." (Library Journal Review)

If you like A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, you may also like these selections:

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Two parallel stories of fundamentalist Mormon polygamy unfold from the perspectives of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th rebel wife of Mormon founder Brigham Young, and present-day Jordan Scott, whose mother has been accused of murdering his polygamist father. Jordan enlists the help of supporters to uncover the mystery of who murdered his father, despite the fact he was excommunicated from the church when he was fourteen. In a similar vein, Ann Eliza Scott pressured the Mormon Church to ban polygamy, which was accomplished in 1890. The 19th Wife is a suspenseful, detailed look at polygamy in the past and present.

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
An intricate story of a Chinese mother and her American-born daughter.
Writer Ruth is struggling to care for her mother, Lu Ling, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Concerned over her mother's health and erratic behavior, Ruth reluctantly consents to have her mother's journals translated into English at Lu Ling's request. The translation uncovers an entire life unknown to Ruth, as Lu Ling's journey from innocent young woman to brave survivor unfolds. Lu Ling emerges from a background of family secrets and lies, heartbreak, and suffering in wartime China to establish a life in America.

07/22/2015 - 12:51pm
Winter Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow

Looking for a book to share on a frosty day? Virginia Brimhall Snow’s Winter Walk is a lovely and informative stroll through nature’s quiet season. Grammy leads the children to all sorts of interesting discoveries. “Why is this tree green, Grammy, when others are brown?”

From the perspective of learning, this book is just right for young ones, and its design allows different ages to enjoy it. The figures of the people are only sketched, almost fading into the white backdrop as they make snow angels, fill a bird feeder, and have a snowball fight. But the images of what they notice and talk about are incredibly vivid: a cardinal, a snowshoe hare, a chickadee, a fox… and a gleaming icicle.

01/06/2015 - 2:14am
The Voices by F.R. Tallis

British author F.R. Tallis has always been fascinated with electronic voice phenomena, also known as EVPs. Through these recordings, it is believed that one can pick up otherwise unheard spirit voices, a method long popular yet controversial with paranormal researchers. Sometimes EVPs seem to pick up vital information on the subjects’ past, revealing disturbing events that could have led to their demises. At other times, the recordings have proven to be completely useless and false. The fascination continues, however, as Tallis says on his website, “A ghost that has been objectified by technology is altogether more convincing and subsequently a great deal more frightening.”

In Tallis’ recent novel, The Voices, Christopher Norton, his wife Laura, and their young daughter Faye move into a beautiful Victorian house in London during the stifling summer of 1976. Norton discovers that the size and location of the home is perfect for his career as a film score writer. He finally has the opportunity to build his own sound recording studio. But as the hot summer nights wear on, Laura begins to hear slight knocking sounds on Faye’s baby monitor. Then come the mysterious, unearthly voices that crackle through the speakers.

07/22/2015 - 12:55pm
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a supernatural romance set in the real and not-too-distant past when people were dying by the millions from the flu epidemic. Everybody hopes to connect with their dead loved ones, and con artist “psychics” are lined up, ready to serve.

Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black didn’t believe in such nonsense. When a “spirit photographer” uses her image with that of ghost who seems to be kneeling at her feet, she is outraged—until the ghost of her dead sweetheart comes to visit her.

01/05/2015 - 10:17am
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Here's a recent Book Match for Veronica Roth's Divergent. Want your own book match? Request one now!

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all. Followed by ...

Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth
As war surges in the dystopian society around her, sixteen-year-old Divergent Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

If you enjoy the dystopic setting, female main character and romantic aspects of these novels, here are some other titles you may enjoy: 

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
A fast-paced dystopian novel about a midwife who willingly turns over her quota of infants, until the night one agonized mother objects. In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia's mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia's choice is now simple: enter the worldof the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan
In a barren land, a shimmering glass dome houses the survivors of the Switch, the period when oxygen levels plunged and the green world withered. A state lottery meant a lucky few won safety, while the rest suffocated in the thin air. And now Alina, Quinn, and Bea--an unlikely trio, each with their own agendas, their own longings and fears--walk straight into the heart of danger. With two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, they leave the dome. What will happen on the third day? 

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
After his parents, two sisters, and he have spent six years in a vast underground compound built by his wealthy father to protect them from a nuclear holocaust, fifteen-year-old Eli, whose twin brother and grandmother were left behind, discovers that his father has perpetrated a monstrous hoax on them all. 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I've always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie. 


Feed by M. T. Anderson
 by M. T. Anderson
In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.

Girl in the Arena
Girl in the Arena: A Novel Containing Intense Prolonged Sequences of Disaster and Peril
 by Lise Haines
In Massachusetts, eighteen-year-old Lyn, who has grown up in the public eye as the daughter of seven gladiators, wants nothing less than to follow her mother's path, but her only way of avoiding marriage to the warrior who killed her last stepfather may be to face him in the arena.

  Graceling by Kristin CashoreGraceling by Kristin Cashore
In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king. 


07/23/2015 - 12:24pm
El Deafo by Cece Bell

In El Deafo, author Cece Bell loses her hearing at age four. Despite this sudden tragedy, Bell's graphic novel memoir is an inspiring and even entertaining look at her childhood. Most importantly, it clearly explains navigating life in ways that would not occur to hearing people.

07/23/2015 - 12:23pm
Andre the Giant by Box Brown

"Andre the Giant has a posse," wrote Shepherd Fairey when he used the mighty wrestler's image in a wildly successful street art campaign, but the story doesn't end there.

Writer and artist Box Brown tracked down interviews with professional wrestlers to craft a graphic novel that celebrates the legend of Andre the Giant while also acknowledging the foibles of this fascinating figure. 

08/13/2015 - 1:39pm
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

It came from the woods. Most strange things do.

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is a collection of visual stories about the sinister things that come from the woods. From mysterious hauntings to creepy creatures, these tales will thrill even the most unflappable reader.

12/30/2014 - 2:09am
The Girl With All the Gifts By M.R. Carey

The Girl With All The Gifts, by M.R. Carey, is one of my favorite books of 2014. It's an adult science fiction novel about a 10-year-old girl named Melanie who goes to a special school. She develops a deep love for one of her teachers named Miss Justineau who has also developed a deep affection for her student. Please don’t read anything on the book’s jacket description. Instead, let the story unfold like a flower.


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