Shelf Life Blog

10/18/2012 - 3:31am
Ralph Masiello’s Halloween Drawing Book

During October, I start finding drawings of jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, bat attacks and grotesque witches all over the house, which my kids draw in anticipation of Halloween. Some of these spooky scenes are quite elaborate, and we hang them up to do double-duty as Halloween decorations. Therefore, when I saw that we had recently added the new Ralph Masiello’s Halloween Drawing Book to our collection at the library, I put it on hold right away so our family could check it out.

10/17/2012 - 3:31am
One Perfect Day

In the United States, the word “wedding” tends to evoke certain associations. The mind automatically regurgitates images absorbed from films, commercials, and magazines: a glowing bride ensconced in layers of delicate white fabric gliding among tables festooned with elaborate decorations, decadent food, and thousands of dollars worth of fresh-cut flowers. In this fantasy, money is no object, happiness is guaranteed, and future contentment seems likely. But how did such an extravagant, illogical vision become normative? Why are weddings consuming people's lives and bank accounts to such an extreme degree? These are the questions Rebecca Mead explores in One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.

As Mead describes her excursions to bridal shows, wedding planner conventions, Aruba (a popular locale for destination weddings), and a Chinese factory that mass produces bridal gowns, she both contextualizes and deconstructs the fantastical visions of beauty and perfection which generally dominate our sense of the American wedding. Even if you aren't planning a wedding, it's difficult to avoid the current glut of wedding-themed media. Wedding cake decorators feature prominently on TV shows that compete with Say Yes to the Dress and A Wedding Story. Each year it seems more and more books and magazines are dedicated to offering advice on how to fully enjoy an ice sculpture center piece or perfectly match the flower girl's shoes to the bride's sister's earrings.

10/16/2012 - 3:32am
Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Arnaldur Indridason's Jar City: A Reykjavik Thriller, the first of a series starring Inspector Erlendur, is a gripping crime novel set in the insular world of Reykjavik, Iceland, where the climate is unforgiving and murder is a relatively rare phenomenon. 

An elderly man, Holberg, is found murdered in his city flat, and, unlike most murders in Iceland that are crimes of passion, Erlendur and his colleagues Sigrinudur Oli and Elinborg quickly realize that this is not going to be a typical murder investigation, especially since the only clues are a cryptic note stating, “I am HIM” and the photograph of a young girl’s grave.

10/15/2012 - 8:05am
book cover for pirate cinema by cory doctorow

Leave it to Cory Doctorow, author, blogger, and technology activist-extraordinaire, to weave a story that successfully blends coming-of-age woes, homelessness, national politics, copyright law, cooking, gadgetry, love, overcoming homophobia, civil disobedience, film-making, mashups, public speaking, the judicial system, beer and coffee brewing, cryptography, and oh so, so much more into a wonderfully geeky, heart-wrenching, page-turning bang-up novel that people of all ages should read.  This book is full of such big, exquisite ideas to learn about that you’ll be Googling your fingers off through the entire story and I mean that in the best way possible.  You will learn reading Pirate Cinema and you will love this as much as you love the characters. 

10/12/2012 - 3:30am
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn: On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him.  He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren’t his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? (catalog description)

If you like Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn, you may also like these titles:

Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel by S.J. Watson: Am amnesiac attempts to reconstruct her past by keeping a journal and discovers the dangerous inconsistencies in the stories of her husband and her secret doctor. (catalog description)

 


 

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay: Your daughter doesn’t come home one night from her summer job. You go there looking for her. No one’s seen her. But it’s worse than that. No one’s ever seen her. So where has she been going every day? And where is she now? In Linwood Barclay’s riveting thriller, an ordinary man’s desperate search for his daughter leads him into a dark world of corruption, exploitation, and murder. Tim Blake is about to learn that the people you think you know best are the ones harboring the biggest secrets. (from summary)

 

10/11/2012 - 9:09am
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

The year is 1912, and the Torrington family is caught on the cusp between a graceful if dying and class-conscious era and the fast-paced, more egalitarian and sometimes brutishness of the coming modern world. And for all that it is Emerald Torrington’s birthday on her family’s grand English estate, she was finding it terribly soothing that morning to pull uselessly at weeds and try to not cry, grown-up and beautiful young woman as she was.  There would be a party in the evening—chocolate cake with green spun-sugar roses in her honor—and it would be the carefully-planned, best effort her lovely mother and their devoted housekeeper could put together, for all that her world—and everyone’s—seems to be ending. And then The Uninvited Guests show up.

10/10/2012 - 3:30am
Zoobiquity

Zoobiquity is a nonfiction book written by a heart specialist for humans.  Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz is often called in as a consultant at the Los Angeles Zoo for animals with heart problems.  One day when she was at the zoo, the head veterinarian mentioned a heart condition that vets have known about for decades and yet human doctors only discovered ten years ago. The name was different, but the condition was the same. Zoobiquity is the result of Natterson-Horowitz's efforts to discover what other medical and psychological conditions humans and animal share.

Dr. Natterson-Horowitz begins by explaining that for decades now veterinarians have searched human medical journals for help with their animal patients, but human doctors very seldom consult with veterinarians or read the veterinary medical journals. She began to wonder what else medical doctors have missed by not encouraging an exchange of information. As a heart doctor who is also a psychiatrist, she also began to wonder how many other conditions and psychoses we share with our animal counterparts. 

10/09/2012 - 9:01am
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan might be one of Kurt Vonnegut’s lesser-known novels, but it deserves just as much praise and attention as Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut’s tendency to combine satire and existential inquiry gives Sirens an invigorating edge. It is an inventive drama, one that successfully incorporates space travel, dark humor, apathetic deities, and bleak ruminations on the futility of human progress.

10/08/2012 - 8:44am
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey has a secret.  He and his mother moved away from their home in California so that his secret would not be discovered.  Michael has Tourette's Syndrome, but that is not his secret, though the facial tics that are associated with his condition often make him the subject of bullying and teasing.  On the way home from school one day, Michael encounters some bullies who attempt to beat him up. At that moment, Michael's secret is revealed.  He can harness electricity and send it out of his hands.  This event is witnessed by Taylor, a popular cheerleader.  Taylor confronts Michael at school the next day and questions him about what she saw.  Taylor, it turns out, also has a secret.  In the book, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, Richard Paul Evans, introduces us to a different breed of superheroes...teens with superpowers.

10/05/2012 - 9:15am

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.

Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd: "...Rutherfurd's sweeping saga of the area surrounding Stonehenge and Salisbury, England, covers 10,000 years and includes many generations of five families. Each family has one or more characteristic types who appear in successive centuries: the round-headed balding man who is good with his hands; the blue-eyed blonde woman who insists on having her independence; the dark, narrow-faced fisher of river waters and secrets. Their fortunes rise and fall both economically and politically, but the land triumphs over the passage of time and the ravages of humans." (Library Journal Review)
 
Byzantium by Michael Ennis
Haraldr Siguardson, a dispossesed Viking prince, journeys to the cosmopolitation court of eleventh-century Constantinople, in an evocative rendering of the opulence, complexity, and colorful people of the Byzantine Empire (Google Books description)
 
Dissolution by C.J. Sansom
Having worked to establish laws that protect the interests of the crown in 1537, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar-general, enlists fellow reformer and lawyer Matthew Shardlake to investigate a commissioner's murder, which may be tied to an impending rebellion. (worldcat.org)


 
 

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