Shelf Life Blog

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

What would you do if you knew that a large asteroid would be hitting the Earth on a specific date just a few months in the future, with no way out, no place to hide? Would you keep working? Would your children go to school? What about food and fuel? What kind of existence would it be while everyone waited for the inevitable end? This is the terrifying dilemma facing the entire world in Ben Winters' novel Countdown City.

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

In a country that is trying to piece itself back together after a terrible civil war, baking cakes might not seem to be such an important thing to do. But these are not just any cakes, and Angel Tungaraza is not just any baker. Her cakes are meant for joy and celebration. Angel’s kitchen is a place where secrets are shared and hearts often reconciled in Gaile Parkin’s novel, Baking Cakes in Kigali.

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.

The Tragic Treasury: Songs From A Series of Unfortunate Events by the Gothic Archies

The Tragic Treasury by The Gothic Archies

We've all seen movie adaptations of our favorite books, but pop music album adaptations are far rarer. The Tragic Treasury is based on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I would go as far to say that it far surpasses the movie in terms of both quality and matching Snicket's indelible tone.

Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

First will ye Lie
Curst shall ye Crye
Worst must ye Die

They should have heeded the warning on the guard stone. But, no, through the years many people couldn’t resist the lure of riches though many died in trying to recover them. For in 1695, English pirate Edward Ockham had commanded his men bury his silver, gold, and jewels on an island off the coast of Maine. He didn’t just bury it deep in a simple hole in the ground. The pirate had his many thousand pounds of loot safely placed in a devious trap called the Water Shaft as is recounted in Riptide, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Flight attendant Summer Benson heads to Black Dog Bay, Delaware, to recover from two disastrous events in her life: a terrifying airplane accident and a man who doesn’t love her enough to marry her. Full of humor, snappy dialogue, and lively characters, Cure for the Common Breakup is a perfect summer read to slip into your beach tote.

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood have been offered a chance to solve the mystery of The Screaming Staircase. If they complete their task, it will get their ghost detecting agency out of serious debt. If they fail, they will lose everything ... including their lives.

11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

11 Experiments That Failed is as hilarious as it is messy. Author Jenny Offill and artist Nancy Carpenter combine their talents as one young scientist stretches the limits of curiousity—and her mother's patience!

Offill tells her story through questions, hypotheses, and results, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative blanks. 

Question: Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?

Hypothesis: Ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs.

What Happened: Stomachache. Brain freeze. Love of ketchup wavering.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 follows the story of Vic McQueen, or "The Brat" as her father affectionately calls her, who happens to be a special little girl. While some children are fast readers, and others are good at a sport from a young age, Vic has the talent for finding lost things. Whether it’s a bracelet, a doll, or a missing photo, she can just hop on her bike, and her magic “covered bridge” takes her wherever it is that she needs to go. At first she takes her little trips to escape her volatile home life. However, over the course of her adventures, Vic soon discovers that she isn't the only person with such a talent—and not everyone with these abilities is nice.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Sylvie and her sister live far away from everybody else in an abandoned subdivision. Sylvie kind of likes it that way because of the gossip. There was even gossip before their parents were murdered, especially after the book came out about their ghost-busting ways. The stuff they kept in the basement. The exorcisms. The tell-all Help for the Haunted was full of way-too-personal details.