Shelf Life Blog

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

In Georgia Bottoms, Georgia has a lot on her plate--a mother one appetizer short of being “out to lunch,” an unemployed brother more off the wagon than on, and a series of clandestine lovers scheduled six out of seven nights a week.

Blotto, Twinks and the ex-King's Daughter

Blotto, Twinks and the ex-King's Daughter

The other day, the puppy ran away with a pair of socks from the laundry basket and I thought “the wee bloke has scarpered." When he dropped them in my hand when I asked, I thought “oh, how spiffing!” I have fondly called my elderly jack russell terrier an “old trouser button” more than once.

 What could possibly have brought on these linguistic oddities?  Well, I have been reading Blotto, Twinks and the ex-King’s Daughter by Simon Brett.  This British cozy mystery, set in the time period between the world wars, is full of wonderful phrases and boffing lingo.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma

A mountain of information has been written about Charles Darwin’s life, ideas and adventures, but this may be the first book about his romance with Emma Wedgwood. The dilemma? Emma was staunchly religious while Charles was bound to science and his revolutionary idea of the origin of species. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, examines the true story of their courtship, marriage and family life as a backdrop to Darwin’s famous discoveries.

Faced with the question of whether or not to marry, Darwin, ever the scientist, compiled a list – a wife, he wrote, is “better than a dog” but then again he’d have “less money for books.” Eventually, Darwin did decide to marry Emma and the couple spent many happy years together.

If you like Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

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.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume: "The story concerns rather implausibly a friendship begun when Caitlin and Vix (for Victoria) are 12. Caitlin, daughter of wealthy, divorced parents, declares that Vix, eldest daughter in a blue-collar family, will be her best friend. Caitlin invites Vix to spend the summer at the family home on Martha's Vineyard. Vix is taken in by Caitlin's family, who arrange for her scholarship to private school and then support her Harvard education. Summers on the Vineyard are filled with sun and adolescent sexual encounters. The girls' friendship endures betrayal, love for the same man, and diverging career paths." (Library Journal)

If you enjoyed Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, these stories about women and friendship may appeal to you:

Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish
“For Katherine Givens and the four women about to become her best friends, the adventure begins with a UPS package. Inside is a pair of red sneakers filled with ashes and a note that will forever change their lives. Katherine's oldest and dearest friend, the irrepressible Annie Freeman, left one final request - a traveling funeral - and she wants the most important women in her life as ‘pallbearers’."—summary from book jacket


Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes.
Anna Walsh returns to her Dublin family after a serious and disfiguring accident. She wants to return to her life in New York City, but she has more than physical healing to do.





 

Ready, Set, Grow! Quick and Easy Gardening Projects by DK Publishing

Ready, Set, Grow!

Sometimes you want to do more than just dig in the dirt, and a targeted gardening project is an excellent way to develop green thumbs. DK’s new gardening book for kids, Ready, Set, Grow! Quick and Easy Gardening Projects, offers some creative and colorful projects that won’t break the bank or send you all around town looking for obscure ingredients. Like all DK books, this one offers wonderful photographs and cheery art, making it a visual feast for the eyes as well. I loved the decorations that we can make out of foil containers, the garden buddy made out of recycled materials, and the “strawberry boot,” made from a pair of old rain boots.

There is also lots of gardening information here, such as a list of quick-to-grow plants that offer quick gratification when growing from seed (try marigolds, nasturtiums, and clary sage). There is a handy list of top microgreens, and how to grow salad greens in a succession to ensure you always have a salad handy. There are a few recipes along the way for Asian stir-fry, sun tea, nasturtium salad, and more. I loved the step-by-step instructions to make a floral tepee from morning glory seeds and branches. We will be creating ours right after Mother’s Day, and by summer’s end we’ll have a magical play area that we created ourselves.

Look + Cook by Rachael Ray

Look + Cook

I love Rachael Ray’s easy-to-use recipes, many of which are meant to make in 30 minutes and boast an abundance of flavor. However, many of Ray’s earlier cookbooks, while offering amazing recipes, were somewhat lackluster, with just a slim insert of glossy photos illustrating the dishes.

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

When you read a book at night until it unnerves you so much that you have to put it down to go sleep and then you dream about it, you know you have a great book!  The Cypress House takes place in 1935 and focuses on Arlen Wagner. As a veteran of World War I, he develops the ability to tell when someone was about to die. 

After the war, he is working as a CCC worker and is asked to take a train down to the Florida Keys to help build the bridge out to Key West. Unfortunately, when the train reaches Florida, Arlen can tell that everyone on that train is about to die. He attempts to convince everyone on the train to get off, but the only one who listens to him is a teenage boy, Paul Brickhill, who has been traveling with him.

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro works at the local Quikmart.  She is bored with her job.  Ryan Sweeney  goes to the Valley Forge Military Academy, where there are no girls.  In The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant, their two worlds collide.  One day Carmen is working at the checkout counter, and Ryan comes into the store on a one-day pass.  He sees her jet-black hair and snake tattoo and falls for her immediately.  Carmen sees Ryan as a cute boy with whom she'd like to spend some time.  She invites him to come and listen to her band.   That is the beginning of an intense relationship for Ryan.

Ryan Sweeney comes from a military family.  His family decided for him that he would be going to Valley Forge Military Academy.  He wants to please his family and has never questioned their authority.  He has been a model student and a rule follower - that is, until he meets Carmen.  He starts sneaking off campus to see her and lying to his classmates about where he is going.  His grades start to slip.  Ryan has never met anyone like Carmen, and he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.

If you like The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

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 Alienist by Caleb Carr: "The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or "alienist." On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan's infamous brothels. The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler's intellect and Moore's knowledge of New York's vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology-- amassing a psychological profile of the man they're looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over." (Book description)
 
These titles are literary, well-written and match the mood of Caleb Carr's The Alienist.
 
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Sarah Dunant's gorgeous and mesmerizing novel, Birth of Venus, draws readers into a turbulent 15th-century Florence, a time when the lavish city, steeped in years of Medici family luxury, is suddenly besieged by plague, threat of invasion, and the righteous wrath of a fundamentalist monk. Dunant masterfully blends fact and fiction, seamlessly interweaving Florentine history with the coming-of-age story of a spirited 14-year-old girl. As Florence struggles in Savonarola's grip, a serial killer stalks the streets, the French invaders creep closer, and young Alessandra Cecchi must surrender her "childish" dreams andnavigate her way into womanhood. (amazon.com)
 
Buckskin Line by Elmer Kelton
”From a six-time Spur Award winner comes the story of a Texas Ranger who carries heavy burdens. The father and brother of the woman he loves have been lynched, and he is fated to meet the Comanche warrior whose band killed his family.”—catalog summary
 
 
 
 

Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck

Paris in the Spring with Picasso

Imagine receiving an invitation to a soiree at the home of Gertrude Stein--number 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris.  If you read Paris in the Spring with Picasso, by Joan Yolleck, you will feel as if you have.  This is an imaginary tale written by the author after a trip to the library where she passed the time reading about Stein.  She created a story about famous artists and authors as they prepare for an evening's festivities.  The young reader is introduced to such characters as Pablo Picasso and Alice B. Toklas.