Shelf Life Blog

02/26/2014 - 3:02am
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

In Born Standing Up, Steve Martin looks back at his comedy career in a way that few artists are able to do. He not only has succeeded in his craft, he also has the luxury of being able to step back from the act and make sense of just what it was all about.

In the 1970's and 80's, Martin attained a kind of success usually reserved for rock stars. He filled up arenas and released number one albums, but  Martin is quick to point out that this was no overnight sensation. He spent his youth trying to break into the entertainment business by working at Disneyland and writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

07/22/2015 - 1:44pm
The Nightingale Gallery: Being the First of the Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother A

There are graphic novels that literally paint then print images onto the page. The Brother Athelstan books are another kind of graphic novel. They have a very visual feel to them, only it’s done with words. Some medieval mysteries are as stuffy as a centuries-old cupboard. P.C. Doherty’s The Nightingale Gallery isn’t like that. Its characters breathe and move and love and murder with a striking vivacity.

07/22/2015 - 1:45pm
Shadows by Robin McKinley

Maggie’s new stepfather gives her the creeps. Not only is he short and hairy and definitely not her Dad, but he speaks with a strange accent and spends most of his time in a shed doing who-knows-what. True, it is not his fault that he cannot replace her dead father, and her mother seems to really, really love him, but somehow that only makes worse the Shadows that follow him everywhere—dozens of them that no one else seems to see.

07/22/2015 - 5:04pm
Beep and Bah by James Burks

Beep and Bah is the story of a robot and a goat on an adventure for the ages. A sock is missing its match, and it's up to this pair of unlikely friends to get it back. Daring Beep is game to search the entire world for the sock's "sole" mate while the more cautionary Bah follows behind.

07/22/2015 - 5:04pm
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

First off, yes, it is that Dahmer. Secondly, yes, this book is written and drawn by a man named Derf Backderf.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

02/18/2014 - 3:03am
A Street Cat Named Bob cover

 A Street Cat Named Bob is the true story of a young man who is a recovering heroin addict who was homeless in London. He became part of a government program that found him an apartment and started him in a rehab program. Then he met Bob, the orange street cat who became attached to him and refused to leave the apartment’s hallway for weeks. James finally let Bob into his apartment, and they developed a fast friendship that benefited both of them. 

07/23/2015 - 12:40pm
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is by Daniel Handler and features art by Maira Kalman, and both elements elevate it above your average high school romance novel.

Min has just left a box on Ed's doorstep. The box contains the pieces of evidence of their brief relationship, as well as letters explaining each piece's importance.

07/22/2015 - 5:03pm
Lapsed Catholics and Stray Bullets: The Works of Martin McDonagh

For the past two decades, Martin McDonagh has established himself as a sensational writer of emotional disturbance and darkly funny exchanges in his Irish-set plays and crime-focused films. He may not be a household name, but that name already has an Academy Award and several Tony nominations under its belt. We have a number of his works in the collection worth recommending.

 

Written in the mid-Nineties, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays offers a trilogy of stories centered around the same town and immediately shows McDonagh's gifts for cleverly inane banter and simmering tensions.

07/22/2015 - 5:03pm
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Theodora is an Odd Duck, but she doesn't realize it yet. She does all the normal chores that ducks do: swimming; buying mango salsa; and checking out library books. She knows what she wants in life, preferring to stay home in the winter with a nice cup of tea while all of the other ducks fly south.

02/12/2014 - 2:55pm
Luthor by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Have you ever been in a situation where you faced impossible odds to succeed? Or, have you ever gone up against an opponent seemingly superior to you in every way? These traits are usually associated with a brave protagonist “overcoming the odds” but can sometimes be compellingly applied to a villain as well. Lex Luthor, a villain almost as old as the Superman mythos itself, has long existed without a compelling character hook. He was originally a fat, bald man who schemed to ruin Europe simply because he could.

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