Shelf Life Blog

07/23/2013 - 3:02am
Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

The 1980s has become a time memorialized in current pop culture as a lost, neon wonderland, a time of gargantuan ambition and even more gargantuan hairstyles that would define America for a young generation. Often forgotten are the numerous problems that young people confronted at the time, including the families splintered through divorce, the temptation of easy access to dangerous drugs such as cocaine, and a world that became more individualistic and “winner take all” each passing day. Less Than Zero was Bret Easton Ellis’ first novel, a satire describing the lives of wealthy, young people on their time off from college as they travel through a disorienting haze of drugs, frayed relationships, and pop cultural references. Although not as widely remembered or highly regarded as Ellis’ other “80s novel,” American Psycho, Less Than Zero is still a worthy read for anyone seeking to understand the true essence of the 1980s.

07/22/2015 - 4:44pm
Axe Cop by Malachai and Ethan Nicolle

Axe Cop: the name says it all. One day a cop found a magical axe and used it to fight crime. Around the same time, five-year-old Malachai Nicolle teamed up with his professional artist brother Ethan to write a comic book. Ethan took Malachai's words—which usually involve explosions, aliens, and secret attacks—and gave them a visual flourish. And thus Axe Cop was born.

Contained in these pages is a frenzy of unchecked childhood imagination that has been given infinite space to roam free. Malachai invents adventures involving machine gun-toting dinosaurs on the Moon and magic babies with unicorn horns. Axe Cop's adventures are narrated in a plain-spoken manner which adds to their appeal. Axe Cop always says exactly what he is thinking.

07/19/2013 - 8:24am
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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 Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: "As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island."  

A novel told through a series of letters is called “epistolary fiction” - don’t you just love that word?  Some other epistolary fiction you might like:

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanf
Hanff, a New York writer, responds to an advertisement by a London bookseller and inquires about purchasing some out-of-print books. Her inquiry to Marks & Company is answered by a very proper Englishman, Frank Doel. Thus begins a witty, challenging, ever-literate exchange of letters. 
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
An epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the man who invented the phrase The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog.  
07/22/2015 - 4:43pm
Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics is an all-star line-up of cartoonists and illustrators who use their artistic chops to put fun spins on all sorts of old rhymes and songs. Fifty rhymes adapted by fifty cartoonists. Woo-hoo! I'd like to take a moment to point some choice selections.

07/21/2015 - 10:31am
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

There was never any doubt that Claire Roth was an exceptionally gifted painter. But in The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro, her troubles begin when she creates a piece for her boyfriend Isaac, a famous but blocked artist. He gratefully submits the work as his own for a prestigious MoMA commission. The painting becomes an instant sensation, and overnight Isaac is the new darling of the art world. He unceremoniously dumps Claire but continues to reap the benefits associated with her work.

07/16/2013 - 3:02am
River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

What better way to start my summer reading than by immersing myself in The River of No Return, a fantasy/romance/adventure/mystery in which Time is a river where humans can move up and down its path to the future and the past. The author, Bee Ridgway—a historian at Bryn Mawr, has meticulously researched the Regency Period. It is a love story and a time-travel adventure with well-developed characters, but part of the fun of reading this novel is in its unique historical details of the Regency period.

07/22/2015 - 4:43pm
Fitz by Mick Cochrane

Fitzgerald does not usually do rash things. He is not as cavalier as his friend Caleb. He is unable to share his feelings with that cute girl Nora, who likes his band. But he did just buy a gun and is holding his father, a man whom he has never met before, hostage. So much for not doing rash things.

Fitz is Mick Cochrane's new young adult novel. The title character, named after F. Scott Fitzgerald, is in desperate need of some father-son quality time. He tracks his dad down like a super sleuth, wanting all sorts of answers. How did his parents meet? Why did he leave? Is he sorry for abandoning his son?

07/12/2013 - 3:03am
If you like Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.: "After harsh early years, Pip, an orphan growing up in Victorian England, is given the means to become a gentleman by an unknown benefactor and learns that outward appearances can be deceiving." (Book summary) 

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

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
In this novel Trollope continues the story of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor, adding to his cast of characters that oily symbol of progress Mr. Slope, the hen-pecked Dr. Proudie, and the amiable and breezy Stanhope family. The central questions of this moral comedy - Who will be warden? Who will be dean? Who will marry Eleanor? - are skillfully handled with that subtlety of ironic observation that has won Trollope such a wide and appreciative readership. (catalog description)


Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
In the fictional New England town of Starkfield, an unnamed narrator is forced to stay at the home of Ethan Frome during a winter storm. He relates his encounter with Frome, the most striking figure in Starkfield, he was but the ruin of a man, with a careless powerful look - in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain. When the beautiful cousin of Frome's bitter wife comes to help with housekeeping, Frome's attraction to her does not go unnoticed. (catalog description)

07/11/2013 - 3:03am
The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Vladimir Vagin

The old king was beloved, but he had died, leaving in his place a handsome, intelligent and rich son. That was the good part.  The bad part—in addition to those sterling qualities, Raphael was a grasping, cold-hearted, and vain young man. He was angry, too. Before his father died, he gave him a blessing that seemed more like a curse. Raphael could make all the horrible laws he wanted to, but he could not wear the crown until he found a girl to marry him who was The King’s Equal—as rich, good-looking, and intelligent as he is, and Raphael wanted that crown.

07/10/2013 - 3:02am
Fido’s Virginia: Virginia Is for Dog Lovers by Ginger Warder

Fido’s Virginiaa play on the Fodor’s travel seriestackles the subject of what to do with your four-legged friend when vacationing in the Old Dominion. Rather than leave Tess or Jack in a boarding kennel at home, you can have her or him with you. You just need to do some planning and have realistic expectations. Ginger Warder’s book gives guidance on what are dog-friendly places to go and things to do in Virginia’s different regions.


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