Shelf Life Blog

Stopping to Home by Lea Wait

Stopping to Home by Lea Wait

On a cold, March day in 1806, Abbie and Seth lost their beloved mother to the smallpox epidemic that was ripping through the town of Wiscasset, Maine. Without food or wood for the fire, the children were in terrible trouble. They could hear the bell tolling for the dead—so many times for a man, so many for a woman, so many for a child. But how many for a missing father? In Lea Wait’s Stopping to Home, the only hope the brother and sister have to survive is that someone in that stricken town will take them in, if only for a little while.

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

Enough with the zombies, already! Before the undead purportedly trod the moors of Georgian England, it was a relatively pleasant, safe place—albeit humming with an occasional murder and talk of international intrigue. Certainly that should be quite enough to keep a heroine’s attention.  Indeed when Jane Austen’s friend Isobel becomes a friend in need upon the suspicious death of her new though elderly husband, it is up to quick-witted Jane to save her life—and reputation!-- in Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, by Stephanie Barron.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

During the early 90s, it became fashionable in some contexts to try to rewrite or downplay aspects of older stories that would be considered sexist, racist, or bigoted in a modern context.  Although well-meaning in its intent, this concept ended up creating a great many revisionist versions of old stories that had a tendency to lose the original context of the tales with a newfound preoccupation on social issues.  James Finn Garner parodied this trend in two mid-90s collections of short stories, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Once Upon a More Enlightened Time.  These two novella-length collections are composed of parodies of classic fairy tales with plots and characters reinterpreted in a “politically correct” style.  Although the amount of laughs each “bedtime story” generates are uneven, the best of the stories make for entertaining, quick reads that will amuse readers looking for subversive wit.

Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan and Jill Carle

Teens Cook by Megan and Jilll Carle

I have a teen daughter who loves to cook. She started baking things on her own as soon as she could safely operate the oven, and her favorite gift to date was the electric skillet her chef aunt gave to her one Christmas so she could start making pancakes. Eventually, she became interested in preparing complete meals, but my cooking books didn't really appeal to her. She was looking for a guide that would instruct her through doable - yet appealing - meals. Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by sisters Megan and Jill Carle fit the bill perfectly.

If you like Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

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.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen: "Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence."

If you enjoyed this title, here are some other novels you may also enjoy:

Deep Down True by Juliette Fay
Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice--even to telemarketers--but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad's departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn't end in middle school...and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity (catalog description)
 

Faith by Jennifer Haigh
Sheila McGann is estranged from her complicated family. But when her older brother Art, pastor of a large suburban parish, finds himself at the center of a scandal, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him. Her strict mother lives in a state of angry denial; her younger brother Mike has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself. (catalog description)

 

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is a gentle, wondrous Chinese fantasy book for children. Set in a long-ago times, it follows a brave and bright girl named Minli who lives with her parents in a poor farming village. There is barely enough rice to keep them fed and certainly not any for luxuries. Most all the people are downtrodden and worried about their daily lives, but not Minli. She does not like the hard work in the sticky, muddy rice fields, but every evening she can look forward to stories told by her beloved father.

These tales fill her heart and her mind in such a way that she becomes the most radiant and hopeful young girl living near Fruitless Mountain. Indeed, she is so hopeful that when a peddler comes to their village with bowls of lucky goldfish, she takes her small savings to buy one, with high expectations. But when no luck seems to come and her father starts sharing his small supper with the hungry fish, Minli knows she must let it go. Releasing it into the Jade River, a river created according to legend from the body of a grieving dragon, she is surprised when a sweet, high-pitched voice—the goldfish!—offers to help her find her fortune by telling her the way to Never-Ending-Mountain where lives the Old Man of the Moon. The Old Man knows all things, including how her family’s fortune might be changed.

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Since the release of the 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead, most “zombie invasion” narratives have dealt primarily with zombies as an external threat, an anonymous, unreasoning force that can never be controlled or incorporated into human society.  As such, the typical zombie story is driven by the fear of the living survivors of the undead; the zombies can be killed, evaded, or fortified against, but never empathized with. But what if, instead of being an unthinking, unknowable threat to civilization, the zombies were only shadows of our loved ones who passed away, and the true “zombie apocalypse” was the horror of humanity trying to understand why their beloved family members had returned from the grave? In Handling the Undead, John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One In, tells a tale of a civilization in crisis as it tries to communicate with the “reliving”—zombies risen during an intense electrical disruption that pose no violent threat to humanity, but challenge society’s philosophical notions of what it means to be alive.

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

Facing forty, Benjamin Benjamin finds himself in a dingy church basement attending a class called The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, which is also the name of a poignant novel by Jonathan Evison. Benjamin has lost his home and family, and a caregiver certificate might be his only chance at finding his way back to normalcy.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Illustrated by Faith Erin Hic

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is author Prudence Shen's laser-guided, satirical commentary on a clash of the cliques that has the potential to destroy friendships, dreams, and dozens of deadly, armored robots. 

Hollow Ridge High School is dealing with the fight of the century. In this corner we have the cheerleadering squad. Popular, gorgeous and fierce, these ladies are looking for some brand-new uniforms. Looking for funds throughout the school, merciless head cheerleader Holly has set her sights on one club's unused budget.

In the other corner is the robotics club. Led by their neurotic but clever president Nate, these geeks are not going down without a fight. 

Stuck in the middle of this struggle is poor Charlie, captain of the basketball team. His only crime is being the ex-boyfriend of Holly and Nate's best friend.

If you like Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier: "As the only daughter and youngest child of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, Sorcha grows up protected and pampered by her six older brothers. When a sorceress's evil magic ensorcels Colum's sons, transforming them into swans, only Sorcha's efforts can break the curse." (Library Journal)
 
If you liked this series for its elements of fantasy and romance and are looking for something similar for an older audience, you may enjoy the following titles (mix of adult and young-adult titles):
 
 
Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight." And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. (catalog description)
 
Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist
Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all--in his own impregnable stronghold. (catalog description)