Shelf Life Blog

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Nothing came easy to John Henry “Doc” Holliday, not even his birth. Born with a cleft lip and palate, his odds for survival in 1851 were slim, and would have been slimmer still without the intervention of his amazing mother, Alice Holliday. Alice devoted herself to John Henry's care around the clock, feeding him with an eyedropper for eight weeks. His uncle, a noted surgeon, then repaired the cleft palate in an astounding surgery that the family kept secret to protect “family honor.” John Henry overcame his speech impediments with this mother’s therapy techniques and became proficient in the piano and several classical languages.

Tragically, Alice died a slow, agonizing death from tuberculosis when John Henry was 15 years old. John Henry also contracted tuberculosis as a young man and therefore knew exactly what kind of death was eventually promised him. Newly graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery, John Henry left Georgia and headed west in search of a dry climate where he could more successfully battle the disease slowly eating away at his lungs.  He ended up in Dodge City, Kansas, a wild frontier town, teetering eternally between chaos and burgeoning civility, and the main setting for Mary Doria Russell's new novel, Doc.

Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Alice Humphrey--daughter of a world famous film director and his movie star wife--has been unemployed for months yet refuses to ask her wealthy parents for help. When the ideal job as manager of a new NYC art gallery falls into her lap, Alice leaps at the opportunity…without considering the legitimacy of the offer. In Long Gone, by Alafair Burke, Alice has no clue her hasty decision will lead to a murder…or that she will be the main suspect!

At the opening of a new art exhibit, Alice meets Drew Campbell. Over the course of their conversation, Drew mentions he has an anonymous investor ready to open a gallery. He asks if Alice might be interested in managing the project. The only caveat is that the premiere show must feature the work of the investor’s boyfriend. The art in question turns out to be a series of hackneyed photographs which, from Alice’s perspective, display zero artistic merit. But she remains undaunted and looks forward to molding future shows.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

In Cassandra Clare’s novel City of Bones, Clary Fray is just an average girl living in New York city until she witnesses a boy getting murdered by three teenagers covered with intricate tattoos and carrying bizarre weapons. Clary wants to go to someone about the murder, but the body mysteriously disappears out of thin air and she is the only person who can see the strange teenagers. What Clary soon finds out is that these teenagers are Shadow Hunters, warriors whose job is to hunt down and kill demons, and to keep a watchful eye on the other creatures that go bump in the night. Soon events take a turn for the worst when Clary herself is attacked by a demon and her mother is kidnapped and placed into a magically induced coma.

Clary can’t understand why any of this is happening -- she is just a normal girl with an average life, and nothing strange had ever happened until she met the Shadow Hunters. But, what she soon finds out is that there are secrets about her past and events that have been wiped from her memory. Now, she needs the Shadow Hunters to remember her past and rescue her mother just as much as they strangely need her to defeat the malicious Valentine, a powerful Shadow Hunter who has turned against his own kind.

If you like Shotgun Bride by Linda Lael Miller

Shotgun Bride by Linda Lael Miller

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.

Shotgun Bride by Linda Lael Miller: "One ranch. Three sons. Only one will inherit...and on one condition. Tired of waiting for his sons to settle down, Arizona-territory rancher Angus McKettrick announces a competition: the first son to marry and produce a grandchild will inherit Triple M ranch. Now, three distinctly different, equally determined cowboys are searching high and low for brides. Kade McKettrick’s got five mail-order brides-to-be camped out at the local hotel, all more than eager to provide him with the heir that will win him the Triple M ranch. But Kade, the newly appointed marshal, has his hands full with a troublesome outlaw gang. Why, then, is he so easily distracted by pretty “Sister Mandy”--who most assuredly is not the nun she claims to be?" (Book description)

If you like Shotgun Bride by Linda Lael Miller, you may also like these titles and authors:

Larkspur by Dorothy Garlock.
Kristin Anderson, a 23-year-old "spinster", heads for Montana to take possession of Larkspur, the ranch she has inherited. But she discovers that in order to keep the ranch, she must face many obstacles -- including gunslingers and landgrabbers. But these trials pale in comparison to the havoc the ranch foreman wreaks on Kristin's heart when together they fight for the land they both love.  (Catalog summary)

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.
A love story and an epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant wilderness of America. Richly authentic, beautifully written, Lonesome Dove is a book to make readers laugh, weep, dream and remember.  (From the catalog summary)

 

 

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

“How glorious!”

Beginning-to-be-eleven-year-old Portia and her little brother Foster are excited to be visiting their relatives in the countryside for the summer in Elizabeth Enright’s Gone-Away Lake. Besides seeing their favorite aunt and uncle, there is Katy the boxer dog who has just had a litter of puppies “with flat faces like pansies, and ears that felt like pieces of silk, and claws like the tips of knitting needles”—but best of all for Portia is having time to hang out with her cousin Julian, he of the hundred-thousand freckles. Closer than a friend and nicer than a brother is how she thinks of him. Julian is interesting and interested in everything that goes on around him.

Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about Awkward Family Photos. This is a collection of photos that I would probably have burned if I had some of these for my family.  However, these families bravely submitted them for the world to see.

Sometimes the reason for the awkward moment hits you in the face, but then there are others that you really have to look carefully at the picture and what is happening in the background to figure out what is funny about the photo. When I realized what is “special” about the photo I felt stupid for not noticing it right away.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Come one, come all! Wander the Cloud Maze. Delight in the Ice Garden. Ride the amazing Carousel. Have your fortune told. Marvel at the tattooed contortionist. Enjoy the magical creation that is The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern! Only open from dusk to dawn, with every visible surface colored black, white and gray, this amazing venue truly lives up to its proper name, Le Cirque des Rêves or The Circus of Dreams.

The circus was created to serve as a forum for a magical competition to which young magicians Celia and Marco were bound by their teachers while still children. But just as the circus tents spread outward in a series of spiraling circles, so too does the circus’s impact on the people drawn into its orbit. As Celia and Marco fall in love, not realizing that the game is in fact a duel in which only one can be left standing, the circus takes on a life of its own.

Something like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Something like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Best friends forever, Lani and Erin have been friends since they can remember in Susane Colasanti's Something Like Fate. Their lives are tied together by a tragedy that happened years ago, and neither girl can now imagine a life without one another. They have always been inseparable but their lives are rapidly changing, moving them farther away from each other.  

Lani is an environmental activist and a high school student.  In her school, it isn't exactly cool to care about the environment. Her best friend Erin is in the popular crowd, the Golden Kids. They used to both be part of the group but when Lani quit hanging out with the group and stopped going to their parties, she fell out of touch with the Golden Crowd. The best friends have a hard time spending time together with Erin hanging out with the popular kids and Lani promoting recycling and green activities.

If you like Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura

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.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand: "On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor." (Book Description)

If you like Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, you may enjoy these nonfiction titles:

An American Plague: the True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
If surviving the first 20 years of a new nationhood weren't challenge enough, the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, centering in Philadelphia, was a crisis of monumental proportions. Murphy chronicles this frightening time with solid research and a flair for weaving facts into fascinating stories, beginning with the fever's emergence on August 3, when a young French sailor died in Richard Denny's boardinghouse on North Water Street. As church bells rang more and more often, it became horrifyingly clear that the de facto capital was being ravaged by an unknown killer. Largely unsung heroes emerged, most notably the Free African Society, whose members were mistakenly assumed to be immune and volunteered en masse to perform nursing and custodial care for the dying. Black-and-white reproductions of period art, coupled with chapter headings that face full-page copies of newspaper articles of the time, help bring this dreadful episode to life.--catalog summary
 

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death by Laurence Gonzales
After her plane crashes, a seventeen-year-old girl spends eleven days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference? ... Deep Survival takes us from the tops of snowy mountains and the depths of oceans to the workings of the brain that control our behavior. Through close analysis of case studies, Laurence Gonzales describes the "stages of survival" and reveals the essence of a survivor: "truths that apply not only to surviving in the wild but also to surviving life-threatening illness, relationships, the death of a loved one, running a business during uncertain times, even war. Fascinating for any reader, and absolutely essential for anyone who takes a hike in the woods, this book will change the way we understand ourselves and the great outdoors.--catalog summary

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

All good things must come to an end. This includes books, toys, and especially books about toys. After two previous adventures of missing bunny mayhem, Mo Willems has gracefully ended one of his strongest series with Knuffle Bunny Free.

The first two Knuffle (pronounced ca-nuffle) Bunny books, young Trixie and her parents deal with the loss and determined effort to find her favorite stuffed animal. It’s a fairly straightforward conflict that parents immediately recognize. Trixie was a baby in the first volume, and school age in the second effort. This last installment visits her a few years later on a trip to Holland to visit her grandparents. This time, Trixie leaves her beloved rabbit on the plane.