Shelf Life Blog

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.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay, is neither historical fiction nor fantasy, but a fascinating blend of both. Carefully researched details of life in China during the Tang Dynasty blend with ghosts and folkloric beings come to life to provide a rich, satisfying backdrop to a gripping story.

Shen Tai spends two years of official mourning for his father, burying the battle dead from both sides at a remote site in the mountains. Kay’s description brings the setting to life complete with the eerie sense of the spirits of the dead haunting the battlefield until their bones are laid to rest. Tai knows he has buried one of the restless ghosts when he no longer hears it calling out in the night. But Tai’s private mourning draws royal attention and a gift that will either make his fortune or destroy him.

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

The following is an email conversation between two CRRL library staff members, Craig and Mercy, about Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novel for adults, The Night Bookmobile. The Night Bookmobile "tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But her search turns into an obsession, as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and memories." (Book summary)

-----Original Message-----
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:58 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Subject: Perusal

Hey Craig,
Would you peruse The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger and tell me what you think? I am not a connoisseur of graphic novels, but this one disturbed me in its view of the reading life.

I love her Time Traveler’s Wife and was intrigued by Her Fearful Symmetry but this one...

Mercy
 


-----Original Message-----
From: Craig Graziano
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 6:01 PM
To: Mercedes Sais
Subject: RE: Perusal

Sure Mercy, I put it on hold and will tell you what I think of it.

Craig
 


 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mercedes Sais
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 1:56 PM
To: Craig Graziano
Subject: RE: Perusal

Craig, let's do a duet blog with our email responses to The Night Bookmobile. What do you think?

The book says "dark" from the beginning with the title. Even the colors chosen are not primary colors often chosen for children's books so you know it's an adult novel. Plus no regular bookmobile comes late at night. Alexandra is a creature of the night.

Mercy
 

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

In Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare returns to the world she created in her series, The Mortal Instruments. Clockwork Angel, the first installment in the new Infernal Devices series, is set in London, several hundred years before the events in City of Bones. Tessa, an American, is called to London by her brother, only to find him missing and herself a captive, embroiled in a dark world of demons, warlocks, vampires and Nephilim, those descendants of angels who strive to protect the world from the forces of evil.

The London Clave that shelters Tessa is also home to three orphaned Nephilim, each apparently with secrets of their own. The attraction between Tessa and fiery Will takes center stage. But the quiet, mysterious Jem also falls for her, as Will pushes her away. Which handsome young man will get the girl in the end? Can a Team-Jem versus Team-Will fan split be far off?

If You Like The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

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 Devil Wears Prada: "Here we meet Andrea Sachs, a recent Ivy League graduate hoping to break into the magazine business, with her ultimate goal being a job at the New Yorker. She accepts an entry-level position at Runway as personal assistant to the editor, Miranda Priestley (rumored to be based on Vogue's Anna Wintour). However, her new job has nothing to do with writing or editing, and everything to do with predicting and fulfilling every outrageous whim her prima donna boss might have. While the job makes incredible demands on Sachs' personal life, the perks are undeniable: rubbing elbows with celebrities, being outfitted in designer clothes, and jetting off to Paris for fashion shows."

If you enjoyed the The Devil Wears Prada you may like these titles:

Bad Heir Day by Wendly Holden.
Anna is a struggling novelist who is thrown for a loop when her bad-news (but oh-so handsome and wealthy) boyfriend kicks her to the curb. She ends up as a nanny for an eight year old who she is sure is Satan's pup.



 

Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes
This novel somehow humanizes those ultra-thin, ultra-trendy, spendaholic New Yorkers that we all love to hate.

 


 

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

Cloudette

In Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld, a smaller than average cloud is happy and well-adjusted to her life in the sky. Being small gives her all sorts of advantages such as cute nicknames, great hiding places and the best view of the fireworks. But when the big clouds sail off to create storms and to water the fields, Cloudette gets the urge to do something big and important, too. So off she goes to find a job.

She could work at the firehouse or the garden center or even at the car wash. But nothing works out until she comes across a dry, barren patch of ground that used to be a pond. Cloudette has an idea! She puffs herself up until she becomes a rain cloud and finally discovers a job just right for a little cloud.