Shelf Life Blog

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)


 
 
10/04/2012 - 7:16am
Wait ‘Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Looking for a spooky story to read in October? Wait ‘Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn, is a great book for brave readers ages 10 and up. It’s narrated by 12-year-old Molly, who has moved into a new house out in the country with her 10-year-old brother Michael, her mom, her new stepdad, and his 7-year-old daughter, Heather. The home just happens to be a converted church bordering extensive grounds, ruins, and even a graveyard. Sounds like the perfect setting for something sinister to happen, right?

10/03/2012 - 8:29am
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz's versatility enables him to effortlessly shift from elaborate epics to intimate, micro-level storytelling. Just a few years after his sweeping epic, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Diaz is back with This is How You Lose Her, a collection of overlapping and intersecting short stories that offer brief, nuanced glimpses of complex characters, emotions, and situations. 

Although the stories contained within This is How You Lose Her are arranged in a non-linear sequence, they create a fragmentary portrait of Yunior's life and progression from a young immigrant learning English from Sesame Street to a middle-aged man reflecting on a hollow life and deteriorating body.

10/02/2012 - 3:31am
Ranchero by Rick Gavin

I've got me a new boyfriend and his name is Rick Gavin. I don't actually know him, but he is the author of the darkly comic debut novel Ranchero, which made me cringe and laugh and scribble "I ♥ Rick" in pink glitter pen on all my notebook covers.

Nick Reid was a cop in Southwest Virginia. Something Happened (it's never explained in the book), and Nick ends up as a repo man down in the Mississippi Delta. One day, Nick and his partner Desmond set off on a routine repo to get payment or take back a flat screen TV from Percy Dwayne Dubois.

"But Percy Dwayne wouldn't give in. No, instead he went all white-trash philosophical and figured that since the world was against him, he might as well fight it. He hit Nick over the head with a fireplace shovel, stole the mint-condition calypso coral–colored 1969 Ranchero that Nick had borrowed from his landlady, and went on a rowdy ride across the Mississippi Delta." *

10/01/2012 - 3:30am
An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

In the closing months of World War II, the Allies are bombing German cities. As Dresden prepares for the inevitable, Lizzie’s family gains an unlikely extra member. Lizzie’s mother works at the Dresden zoo. When the zoo director orders that in the event of a bombing raid, the animals must be shot to prevent them escaping and causing havoc in the city, Lizzie’s mother convinces him to let her take the young orphaned elephant, Marlene, home. And so Marlene moves into the shed in the garden behind Lizzie’s house.

When the bombing of Dresden finally happens, the destruction is worse than anyone imagined. With the Soviet Army approaching from the East, Lizzie’s family flees to the West through bitter winter weather with Marlene in tow. An Elephant in the Garden is not only a story of the horrors of World War II from the perspective of German civilians, it is a tale of an unlikely group of people drawn together by circumstances and an elephant, struggling to survive war, hunger, and winter hardship and to escape to safety behind Allied lines.

09/28/2012 - 3:31am
Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie

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.

Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie: "A demonic guest terrorizes a haunted hotel. When ghost hunter and medium M.J. Holliday appears on a television show called Haunted Possessions, she encounters an evil knife that releases a demon. Now all hell has broken loose in the haunted hotel where M.J. is stayin' and it's up to her to give the uninvited guest an early checkout." (Book summary)

If you like Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie, you may also like these titles:

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows.  (from summary)

 

 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit....The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers.  (from summary)

 

09/27/2012 - 8:51am
The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander

The young king Tamar was awakened in darkness by the sound of elephants in his courtyard. Their jeweled tusks and golden banners proclaimed them the property of a great maharajah. In short order, a dark figure strode into the palace and demanded an immediate audience.

Tamar sighed heavily.
As his tutor reminded him, the principles of Dharma--the code of honor, conscience, and the obligation to do what is royally virtuous, meant that he could not refuse an audience to another king, no matter the lateness of the hour. Indeed, in the long-ago world of ancient India recreated in Lloyd Alexander's The Iron Ring, a king's honor is his most important possession.

The mysterious visitor, King Jaya, ruled the distant land of Mahapura where, he grandly informed his host, all was much better than in Tamar's own kingdom of Sundari. Musicians, dancers, food, all were better in Mahapura, King Jaya purred. The only distraction he sought from Tamar was a simple game of aksha. Pure luck would determine the rolls of the dice.

In all hospitality, Tamar could not refuse, although the stakes Jaya proposed would have fed the court for a month. Die-roll after die-roll, Tamar won. Then the king of Mahapura yawned and made a final wager: "Life against life."
This time the dice seemed to jump from Tamar's fingers of their own accord.
"King of Sundari," Jaya said, "you have lost."

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