Shelf Life Blog

07/02/2013 - 3:00am
A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans

A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans, by Michael Farquhar, is a fascinating series of cleverly-penned essays on true-life characters whom you’ve probably never heard of but definitely are a part of American history.  Meet Jack Billington, the Mayflower Murderer. Not all of the passengers on the Mayflower were sterling souls. He may have signed the famous Mayflower Compact, but Billington never kept his end of the deal. He was a foul-tempered wastrel whose son almost (accidentally and stupidly) blew up the ship on the way over and Jack had the gall to badmouth Miles Standish. For this he was bound, neck to ankles, at which point his bravado lessened considerably. But Jack Billington did not learn from that experience and went on to meet a knave’s fate.

07/01/2013 - 3:01am
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

As Faerie Wars, by Herbie Brennan, begins, the prince of a magical realm has escaped the palace in the dead of night. Someone is trying to kill him. Months pass, and, on the run from an encounter with Lord Hairstreak's men, Prince Pyrgus found himself running full-tilt down Seething Lane. A factory lay just ahead and once inside he slipped on a white lab coat and blended in with the rest of the workers.

06/28/2013 - 5:42pm
If you like Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: "A resolute yet naive Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died. Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school. An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice." (Publisher's Weekly)
If you like Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. (catalog description)
In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother--but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. (catalog description)
06/27/2013 - 8:53am
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

In Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey, girls are for working in the kitchen, mending nets, keeping the house clean and tending the sick and the children. That’s all, and that’s enough as far as Yanus, Sea Holder of Half-Circle Sea Hold is concerned. His young daughter Menolly may –think- she has some musical talent, but that’s not a girl’s proper place. Never mind that Petiron, the old Harper, believed she had a real gift and taught her what he could. The daughter of a lord has an established place, and all her twiddlings on the harp won’t change that.

07/22/2015 - 4:42pm
Goliath by Tom Gauld

The tale has traveled far and wide over the millennia. A sinister, gigantic force of evil is vanquished by a young shepherd with a sling and a small stone. The shepherd grows up to be King David, but we know so little about the nine-foot-tall soldier who was slain. What if his real passion was not killing and maiming but filing clerical paperwork?

06/25/2013 - 10:02am
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

Mr. Ali is a bored gentleman, a bit of a perfectionist, and—much to his wife’s chagrin—recently retired and constantly underfoot. Mr. Ali clearly needs something to do with his cleverness. His rather small house with carefully tended garden and comfortable veranda is a beautiful, small haven in the heart of a busy Indian city, but it is not enough to hold the interest of a man so distinguished and wise. And so, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People began in the Alis’ front room.

06/24/2013 - 3:30am
Instead of Three Wishes by Megan Whalen Turner

In Megan Whalen Turner’s Instead of Three Wishes, mere mortals go up against crafty fey and magical mayhem with only their mundane wits to protect them.

Selene was only trying to help the cantankerous old man across the street. He seemed frozen by passing cars and probably would have been hit were it not for Selene taking him carefully by the arm. She did not realize that that she was escorting elfin royalty.

06/21/2013 - 10:08am
If you like The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
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.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly: "After the death of his mother, 12-year-old David mourns her loss alone in his attic bedroom, with only his books to keep him company. As his anger at her death grows with each day, the books begin to speak to him, telling their wild tales of dragons, princes, and knights. Soon reality and fantasy collide, and David finds himself in a land unlike his own, a world where monsters, evil sorceresses, and half-human wolves dwell. With the help of friends he meets in this strange land, David goes on a search for the King, who is said to have The Book of Lost Things; this book will help David find his way home. Along the way, David encounters many challenges that transform the boy into a man." (Library Journal)
If you enjoyed this novel, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
Reveals the world of Peter Pan through the eyes of Nick, a fatherless teen whose dreams of wonderland are replaced by the gritty reality of life and death, as Peter's recruits are forced into a lethal battle where the line between good and evil is blurred. (catalog description)
Even after two hundred years, the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm remain among our most powerful stories. Their scenes of unsparing savagery and jaw-dropping beauty remind us that fairy tales, in all their simplicity, have the power to change us. With some of the most famous stories in world literature, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, as well as some less well known stories like The Seven Ravens, this definitive collection promises to entrance readers with the strange and wonderful world of the Brothers Grimm. Maria Tatar's engaging preface provides readers with the historical and cultural context to understand what these stories meant and their contemporary resonance. Fans of all ages will be drawn to this elegant and accessible collection of stories that have cast their magical spell over children and adults alike for generations. (catalog description)
06/20/2013 - 3:31am
Uncle Andy's by James Warhola

Ah, the wacky uncle. He is an institution as old as the concept of family itself. Many can claim to have one, but few can say that his uncle is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. That's where Uncle Andy's, by James Warhola, figures in.

Before Warhol was a painter, a filmmaker, and a celebrity, he was Andrew Warhola. After college, he shortened his name and left his home in Pittsburgh to start an art career in Manhattan. But back in Steel City was Andy's older brother Paul, who worked in a junkyard and was father to seven children, one of whom was our author/illustrator James. Paul used a lot of the trash he found to make sculptures, and if he found something particularly unusual, he would bring it to Andy.

06/19/2013 - 3:30am

During the summer’s excitement over the massive, new blockbusters, many older and more unusual films are neglected and ignored. These older monster films, though they lack the digital effects and huge budgets of more modern releases, are classics of their genre, with clever performances and intriguing plots. One day this summer, you may feel compelled to take a trip back in time and see some of these legendary movies for yourself.


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