Shelf Life Blog

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined, by Heather Dixon

Entwined, by Heather Dixon, is a new take on the fairytale of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” The twelve sisters live in the kingdom of Eathesbury where their father the king rules with a firm and practical hand. Their mother loves to dance, and her joy and optimism are passed down to her eldest daughter, Azalea. On the eve of her death, their mother makes Azalea promise upon a silver handkerchief that she will take care of her sisters; and Azalea does just that, with the fulfillment of her promise being enforced by the magic of the silver handkerchief.

If you like The Pact by Jodi Picoult

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

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 Pact: A Love Story: The Golds and the Hartes, neighbors for eighteen years, have always been inseparable. So have their children-and it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. But the bonds of family, friendship, and passion-which had seemed so indestructible -- suddenly threaten to unravel in the wake of unexpected tragedy. When midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the truth. Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There's a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris pilfered from his father's cabinet-a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris describes. 

If you enjoyed The Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult, you may enjoy these titles:

Before You Know KindnessBefore You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
"For ten summers, the Seton family - all three generations - met at their country home in New England ... In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test the values that unite the family - and the convictions that just may pull it apart."-catalog summary


 

Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison
"When Delia Byrd packs her car and begins the long trip home from Los Angeles-from the glamour of the rock 'n roll business, her passion for singing and songwriting, and the darker days of whisky and violence and too much belief in the promises of a man she loved-she heads to Cairo, Georgia, and her own unresolved past. Ten years earlier, Delia left the husband who turned on her, abandoned her two daughters, one an infant, and fled to California. But Delia is pulled back to Georgia: to a world of convenience stores and biscuit factories, kudzu and deep-rooted Baptism-to make a deal with the man she paid a high price to leave. She brings her third daughter, Cissy, with her. And as the lives of Delia, Cissy, Amanda, and Dede converge, Delia's past uncoils into the present with a ferocity that brings all four women to terms with themselves and with one another.  -catalog summary

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Shark vs. Train

The unlikeliest foes of all time are put to a series of tests. One is a fearsome predator, the other a powerful example of human innovation. Contests, races, and video games are all necessary when trying to figure out who is better. It's teeth vs. wheels. It's beast vs. machine! It’s Shark vs. Train!
 
What starts as two boys’ simple search through a toy box spirals into the possibilities of pitting these very different opponents against each other and predicting what might happen. Now I know what you are thinking: there are a million differences between a shark and a train, and that is part of the fun. This book is the extreme equivalent of comparing apples to oranges.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro gracefully explores the experiences and memories of a disgraced artist living in post-war Japan. The novel is seductive and haunting, but I was also impressed by its substance and depth.

Mansuji Ono, the novel’s protagonist, was once a great artist whose paintings commanded respect throughout Japan. Following the end of World War II, however, Ono experiences a surreal displacement. From Ono’s perspective, the former order he was a part of has not only been abandoned, it has been rejected and renounced as the epitome of disaster. Instead of enjoying the power and prestige that accompanied his former reputation, Ono finds himself adrift, an aging man who wanders through a crumbling house, where all traces of his past life have been “tidied away.”

Swing by Rupert Holmes

Swing, by Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes’ Swing has more than a touch of noir—and its own soundtrack. Set in San Francisco in 1940, vagabond jazz musician Ray Sherwood has been made a very interesting proposition. A beautiful, young Berkley music student wants him in a most peculiar way. She’s won an international contest for composers, and her piece needs to premiere at the Golden Gate Exposition in just a few weeks. What she needs from Ray are his talents to orchestrate her music for many instruments. Ray is enchanted by Gail’s breezy joie de vivre and her snappy patter even as his own troubled past makes him hesitate. But the tenor veers from sweet romance to dangerous liaison when a lovely woman plunges to her death mere feet from the happy couple, changing this composition’s theme from serenade to police siren.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael is fourteen years old and living in an unnamed, third-world country in Andy Mulligan's book, Trash.  He and his friend Gardo spend most of their days picking through the huge trash pile looking for everyday items and food.   Raphael and Gardo know that when the trash is dumped from the wealthy part of town they will have a heyday.  Most of the children in Raphael's village drop out of school to spend their day sifting through the trash to help support their families.  Families see school as a waste of time when their children could be helping out in a more productive manner with the trash picking.

If you like Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea's family, friends, and other victims

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me

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.

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me: "The friends, family, and co-workers of the late-night talk show host on the E! network describe how they have all been tricked by her into believing tales of utter nonsense and behaving like total fools."

If you liked that book, you may also like these titles and authors.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman.
Comedian Silverman's memoir that mixes showbiz moments with the more serious subject of her teenage bout with depression as well as stories of her childhood and adolescence. (Catalog summary)

 


 

Bossypants by Tina Fey.
From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon, comedian Tina Fey reveals all, and proves that you're no one until someone calls you bossy.
(Catalog summary)

 

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)

A bright young girl runs through the chaos of demolished streets. Plumes of black smoke rise from the rubbled buildings. No one else is in sight. Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) is a life lesson that everyone should receive: always take responsibility for your actions, particularly when they involve a ginormous hulking robot with the power to crush cars and shoot lasers every which way.
 
Usually when my school science projects went wrong, it was more of a mild disappointment than anything else. My baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano did not erupt. I received a C- instead of an B+. These are minor hiccups when compared to our main character’s situation. Oh No! allows us to think about our own mistakes and say, “Well, it could have been worse…much, much worse.”

Pop by Gordon Korman

Pop, by Gordon Korman

Marcus, the new kid in town, wants to tryout for the undefeated high school football team in Pop, by Gordon Korman. While training by himself at a local park, he meets Charlie, a massive 50-something-year-old man with powerful football skills that he shares with Marcus. Estranged from the teammates who don’t want to accept an outsider, Marcus’s growing friendship with Charlie gives him a sense of belonging. But Marcus also begins to see that something about Charlie isn’t quite right. For an old guy, he’s a charismatic prankster who acts like a big kid, can’t remember Marcus’s name and runs away at the first sign of trouble. Then Marcus discovers that Charlie is actually a former NFL linebacker known as “The King of Pop.”

A Trace of Smoke

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell

Berlin, 1931. A grim police station hallway, lined with photographs of unidentified victims of murder, accidental or unattended deaths. This is the Hall of the Unnamed Dead, and where crime reporter Hannah Vogel is horrified to discover a picture of her brother, Ernst. Delving into his murder, Hannah discovers that her cross-dressing, cabaret singer brother had a complicated and secret life involving high-level Nazis, stolen treasures – and a 5-year-old orphan who insists that Hannah is his mother.

A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell reads like a black and white movie, but explores every shade of gray. Trains and fog and endless cigarettes cast a pall of smoke over everything. It evokes the shifting loyalties, fears and grim weariness of every day Germans trying to keep their heads down as the Nazis rise to power.

As Hannah digs deeper into her brother's death, she is pulled into a web of lies, deceit, and deadly secrets.