Shelf Life Blog

07/22/2015 - 1:39pm
Oregon Hill, by Howard Owen

Welcome to Oregon Hill, a hardscrabble neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, where people may move away but they never really leave. Willie Black, a 49-year-old crime reporter with the only major newspaper in town, is such a one.

Willie is an old-time journalist, maybe a relic, who watches the decline of the traditional press with many a rueful sigh and stubbed-out cigarette. He’s seen a lot in his years, but the gruesome murder of a pretty, young girl found by the South Anna River does manage to unnerve him and kindles within a fire to find out the truth—a truth that doubles back and leads home to Oregon Hill.

04/15/2014 - 3:01am
The Humans by Matt Haig

Sometimes it takes an alien to tell us humans how to live.

The Vonnadorians are advanced beings who come to our messy, wet planet and think we, The Humans, are inferior. They believe we are not ready for more technological progress so they eliminate Professor Andrew Martin, who has made a breakthrough in mathematics which would change the course of humanity’s future. Naturally, they replace him with an alien look-alike who is ill-prepared for his mission to erase any knowledge of the Cambridge professor’s work--and to destroy anyone who knows about it.

07/22/2015 - 5:10pm
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Troy Billings is about to kill himself. At 296 pounds, he's tired of being a joke. Every aspect of his life, the way he looks, moves, even the way he breathes, has become a punchline for his peers. If Troy had his way, Fat Kid Rules the World would be a pretty short read. Thank goodness Curt MacCrea enters the picture.

07/22/2015 - 5:10pm
Moonday by Adam Rex

Like a lost puppy, the moon follows a family home one night. Soon an entire town is affected by the celestial visitor. They all have just received their first Moonday.

At first, it is very exciting. When the moon shrinks enough to fit in the backyard, our protagonist hops onto it and explores. But things grow peculiar. Morning never arrives and everyone is feeling extra sleepy. Soon the backyard is flooded with a high tide and howling dogs!

07/21/2015 - 10:14am
Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Early in her career, photographer Rebecca Winter unexpectedly set the art world on fire with her images known as the “Kitchen Counter” series. Women, young and old, related to the photos’ ability to capture the essence of their everyday lives. The most famous picture “Still Life with Bread Crumbs”—and also author Anna Quindlen’s title for her novel—had thus far funded a comfortable life for Rebecca, her son, and her aging parents.

07/22/2015 - 5:10pm
Picaresque by the Decemberists

An unseen beast trumpets mightily. There is a slight pause, then the drums approach, rolling across the sonic landscape. Picaresque, The Decemberists' densely-textured folk pop album, begins.

04/07/2014 - 8:46am
Star Wars Classic Comics: The Rebel Storm by Archie Goodwin

There was a considerable gap between the releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the early 1980s.  During that time, the expanding Star Wars fan base began to wonder what was happening to the characters in the meantime.  What worlds did Luke, Leia, and Han visit?  What schemes did Darth Vader plot to destroy the rebellion?  Did Chewie ever get a decent flea bath? Two of these three questions are answered in Archie Goodwin’s The Rebel Storm (Classic Star Wars Volume Two), an anthology of comics originally published between 1981 and 1984.  Although sometimes marred by a sense of discontinuity with Lucas’ universe, the best stories in this anthology deserve a place in Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

04/07/2014 - 5:44am
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck

Stingy Scrooge McDuck, owner of so much wealth he can literally swim in it, is one of Disney’s most beloved characters. Although many have wondered how he made his fortune, few know the true story.  The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa, is the tale of how Scrooge came to make his legendary fortune when he was young, traveling across the world in search of gold.

07/22/2015 - 5:09pm
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half explores artist Allie Brosh's almighty id with a kind of courageousness usually reserved for walking on hot coals or taunting killer bees. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Brosh's book features anecdotes and musings from her life, complemented by pictures drawn with a basic paint program. 

Sheer audacity is one of Brosh's best assets. Her stories are bold examinations of what she fears most in life and how these anxieties form her identity. 

07/22/2015 - 1:40pm
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a war hero and rising star in the MGB--Stalin’s state security force, is proud of his country. Yes, he has to do some unpleasant things, such as supervising the torture of suspected persons—and there are many suspected persons, the list growing daily. But all of that is surely necessary to protect post-World War II’s Russia in Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.

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