Shelf Life Blog
After a valiant struggle, Carmen’s husband, Jobe, succumbs to leukemia. Although she admired Jobe, and bore and raised three children with him, Carmen felt little passion for her husband while he was alive and occasionally strayed outside of her marriage to savor that missing ingredient. In The Forever Marriage, by Ann Bauer, Carmen has daydreamed for years about being a “free” woman, but the reality of Jobe’s death affects her in unexpected ways as she looks back on their life together.
While wandering through Europe after her junior year, Carmen—beautiful, worldly, and untamed—was mortified when she accidentally spilled hot tea on a stranger in London’s Kensington Gardens. It’s through this encounter that she met ungainly Jobe, who was pursuing his PhD in mathematics at Oxford. Never was there a more mismatched couple. But despite their differences, Jobe always seemed available to rescue Carmen when her future was most uncertain.
The universe has declared war on itself and everyone is choosing one of two sides. It all started when the species on a planet tried to conquer a species on its own moon. The destuction knows no end, but amongst the slaughter, within the dismal senselessness of bloodshed, there is a child born. She is the daughter of Alana and Marko, who are supposed to be enemies. Now all three are on the run. Saga: Volume One is the beginning of their story.
Boot & Shoe, by Marla Frazee, is the story of two dogs who are the best of friends and a trouble-making squirrel. Boot and Shoe are littermates and are mostly inseparable, living in the same house, eating from the same bowl and even sleeping in the same bed. But Boot is a back porch kind of dog while Shoe prefers to spend his time on the front porch. One day a squirrel arrives, determined to cause trouble. What follows is an epic chase all around the house and yard that will have readers chuckling.
By the mid-1800s, American middle class women frequently turned to Godey’s Lady’s Book for household advice, sewing patterns, and recipes. Although founded by Louis Godey, from 1837 to 1877, it was led by Editor Sarah Josepha Hale and under her leadership, circulation rose dramatically. In Civil War Recipes, Lily May and John Spaulding have done a very nice job of selecting recipes from the first part of the 1860s run of the magazine and presenting them along with enough culinary history to make for an interesting read.
"Don't you love it, Mother? We can shut our eyes and pretend we live in a candy house. All candy. Everywhere."
The Ugly One in The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli remembered how her child loved sweets. Asa was beautiful, and her mother tried to give her all the beauty she could though they were poor.
She worked as a midwife in the village where she was accepted for her healing gifts. She took simple things in exchange for her services: some food, a bit of wool, or perhaps a lovely ribbon for Asa's hair.
The hunchbacked woman was simply good, happy knowing that her talents were used to help others. Yet her neighbor Bala knew they would be rich if she could persuade the Ugly One to drive the demons from the burgermeister's son. The Ugly One protested. She was a midwife, an herbal healer sometimes, nothing more than God wished her to be. But when she saw the boy, yellowed and dying from a tormenting demon, she believed that God had given her another path.
Military science fiction has been a major part of the science fiction genre since the publication of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic Starship Troopers in 1959. For the most part, military science fiction is not thought of as humorous, but one exception to this rule is Harry Harrison’s hilarious satirical novel Bill the Galactic Hero. The story of a cowardly, naïve, and none-too-bright young man who becomes an unwitting enlistee in a deadly, galaxy-spanning war, Harrison’s novel is filled with deadpan humor, bizarre situations, and satire of the conventions of military science fiction.
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.
Hood by Stephen Lawhead: "The first in a trilogy called King Raven, Hood tells the story of an alternative Robin Hood, a rebel in the deep forests of Wales in 1093. (Lawhead's extensive research convinced him of this premise.) Son of a king, a young man named Bran is made homeless when his father is killed and the kingdom of Elfael becomes a pawn to squabbling Norman factions. A long and fascinating time in the wilderness, in which Bran's faith and health are restored by an old woman of mystical origins, brings him at last to his destiny: leading a band of dauntless archers against the kingdom's usurpers. Robin Hood is born, along with Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, and Little John, in this highly imaginative, earthy adventure that has little to do with Errol Flynn but is just as rousing." (Booklist)
If you enjoyed this book's depiction of warfare and society in medieval Europe, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
A fugitive English forester and mercenary defender saves young novitiate Melisande and, defending himself from a vengeance-seeking rapist priest and Melisande's father, finds himself slogging his way to Agincourt as an archer in King Henry V's army. (worldcat.org)
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England's ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king's beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John's attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales--and Llewelyn--Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie. The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. (worldcat.org)
Intrigue, spying, resistance fighters working behind enemy lines to sabotage the Nazis—Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin, has it all. The story is true, but it reads like a spy thriller.
Short stories are a tricky business. When done well, just a few pages of text can offer a tantalizing glimpse of another world, or immerse you in a scenario so familiar it feels claustrophobic. Creating a brief narrative that contains depth and nuance is a significant accomplishment. I’d venture to guess that only a few writers have managed to master the craft. For several years, my dependable favorites have been Ray Bradbury, Raymond Carver, Miranda July, Flannery O’Connor, and Etgar Keret. Since reading Smoke and Mirrors, this list now includes Neil Gaiman.
Smoke and Mirrors brings together a wide variety of Gaiman’s short pieces. In the introduction, Gaiman writes that “Stories are, in one way or another, mirrors. We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how it doesn’t work. Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in the darkness.” I’d like to think that most of Gaiman’s stories live up to such lofty ambitions.
How would George Washington behave in New York society in the 1930s? The ladies and gentlemen of post-Depression-Era New York have had to reinvent the old rules of order in Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility. The women are experimenting with new freedoms where they don’t want to figure out how to marry the man with the power and money—they want to be him.
In this story, partly a Sex in the City romp, Katey Kontent, daughter of Russian immigrants, and her friend Eve Ross, who is trying to escape her Midwestern small city blues, make a brand new start of it on New Year’s Eve 1937 in the greatest city in the world. They meet banker Tinker Grey that night. They think he is the “King of the heap/top of the list,” and he has a well-studied copy of Young George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation to guide him. The three form a friendship/love triangle, but Tinker’s secrets will test their loyalty. Katey and Eve are not afraid to meet their futures, but Tinker is stuck in the past.