Shelf Life Blog
The plot and characters in The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson, are full of surprises. Grown-up siblings Annie and Buster Fang end up back home with their parents when both their lives implode in creative ways. Buster, while writing for a macho magazine, was shot with a potato gun, doing serious injury to his face. Actress Annie shed some extra clothes on a movie set and got blacklisted. Adrift and in need, they naturally return home.
But coming home for them is no staid Norman Rockwell gathering. Annie and Buster Fang grew up being conduits for their parents’ eccentric artistic visions. Chapters describe parents Caleb and Camille Fang’s disturbing performance art events with their children, stage-named Child A and Child B. The elder Fangs tightly tangled their family and their art, and, not surprisingly, the children are “messed up.” Funny, thoughtful and disturbing, this novel tests the boundaries of how most of us define art and family.
A nubile co-ed is missing from the same small, rural Mississippi town where another young woman had disappeared twenty-five years earlier—the mystery unsolved, her body never found. So begins Tom Franklin’s stellar novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
Socially-awkward Larry Ott was 16 years old when Cindy Walker, both beautiful and popular, asked him out on a date. That momentous occasion—at least through Larry’s eyes—was the point when his young life began a downward slide from which it would not recover. Walker was never seen again. Although no evidence was ever found connecting him to the girl’s disappearance, the townspeople unanimously convicted Larry without the benefit of any trial. Shunned and taunted, he became the local pariah.
Years ago, three-year-old Gerald was left home alone in an apartment where a fire broke out. When authorities discovered that Gerald was home by himself, he was removed from the custody of his substance-addicted mother Monique and sent to live with his aunt. While living with his Aunt, Queen, Gerald is happy. After his aunt dies when he is nine, his mother returns but now she has a new husband, Jordan, and a daughter, Angel. Gerald goes to live with them, but he soon learns that all is not well. Jordan works sporadically and is abusive towards Angel and Monique. Monique does not stand up to Jordan--in fact she spends most of her time trying to please him. Jordan's abusive behavior towards Angel is a constant source of distress for Gerald. Soon the problems escalate to a point that force Gerald's hand in Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper.
All is well at the city zoo. The zookeeper lies back in his chair, grabbing a quick snooze. It is a perfect time…for escape.
Where’s Walrus, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage is a delightful romp through New York City with a flippered fugitive who always knows where he can blend in, outsmarting the zookeeper every step of the way. Our title character first hides in a fountain, pretending to be a mermaid, next we see him in a diner, then a store window. The zookeeper is close behind, but never quite sees through the disguises. Will you?
I love a Regency Romance with a twist on the tried and true formula. In Loretta Chase’s Silk Is for Seduction the characters are well-drawn with interesting backgrounds and they grow. The plot has fun twists and the dialogue is lively, and, of course, all romances include some sensuous love scenes. But for the hero and heroine, it’s the end of the Regency period--we even see glimpses of the young Princess Victoria--and the modern world is creeping in and old stereotypes are dying.
Do you know what your “love language” is? If you adore it when your husband takes out the trash and he enjoys going out to dinner with you more than anything, your love language may be “Acts of Service” while his may be “Quality Time.” In The Five Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman asserts that every person speaks one of these “primary” love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, or Gifts. People can also speak a secondary language, but the primary language is the most important. Although the focus of this book is on romantic relationships (primarily marriage), Chapman also has applied this concept to relationships with children, teens, and co-workers in other books.
Do you remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Well, perhaps that storyline is not true, and Juliet did not kill herself. Perhaps Romeo Montague killed Juliet Capulet. It was he, her soul mate and new husband, who committed a terrible crime. Romeo gave up Juliet to the hands of the Mercenaries, demons who seek to destroy love and separate soul mates. Juliet Immortal, a fantasy by Stacey Jay, retells the story of what happened between Shakespeare’s famous lovers.
Juliet has spent seven hundred years working for the Ambassadors of Light after Nurse, her Ambassador guide, saved her soul on the night Romeo killed her. At that moment, Juliet pledged allegiance to the Ambassadors’ cause, which is to bring soul mates together and make sure that their love blooms. She now spends much of her time in a dark mist, from which she is only taken out by the Ambassadors of Light to return to Earth, shift into a borrowed body, and assist soul mates. However, Romeo is working against her, and his allegiance to the Mercenaries makes Romeo and Juliet immortal enemies.
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.
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore: "For beta male Charlie Asher, proprietor of a shop in San Francisco, life and death meet in a maternity ward recovery room where his wife, Rachel, dies shortly after giving birth. Though security cameras catch nothing, Charlie swears he saw an impossibly tall black man in a mint green suit standing beside Rachel as she died. When objects in his store begin glowing, strangers drop dead before him and man-sized ravens start attacking him, Charlie figures something's up. Along comes Minty Fresh-the man in green-to enlighten him: turns out Charlie and Minty are Death Merchants, whose job (outlined in the Great Big Book of Death) is to gather up souls before the Forces of Darkness get to them...." (Publisher's Weekly Review)
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. Put New York Times bestselling authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett together . . . and all Hell breaks loose. (catalog summary)
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
Described by the author as “a little nightmare produced by the unaccustomed high-living of a brief visit to Hollywood,” The Loved One is an outrageously comic novel about the commercialization of death itself. Mr. Joyboy, the ultimate embalmer, and Aimee Thanatogenos, crematorium cosmetician, find their romance complicated by the appearance of a young English poet named Dennis Barlow. This bizarre triangle is played out against an ironic and macabre backdrop: a full-service funeral home for Hollywood’s departed greats called Whispering Glades, and a pet cemetery, Happier Hunting Ground – both the final resting places for deceased loved ones. (book description)
The wolves will not stop chasing Ben through his dreams. They are wild and persistent, leaving paw prints in the snow next to Gunflint Lake, Minnesota: The boy's home.
Jump back fifty years. Rose lives just outside of New York City, where the bright lights and tall towers tempt her to visit--much against her parents’ wishes. Though separated by time, Ben and Rose are both looking for a place where they can belong. Thus begins Wonderstruck.
Hannah Legare is a thirty-five year old business woman who lives in San Francisco with her husband and business partner, Jon. Hannah is about to lose it all, husband and business. After another one of her drunken nights, she finds herself climbing up the exterior of her and Jon's apartment in the middle of the night. Her plan is to break in and attempt to convince Jon they should try to make their marriage work. Before she can do that, she slips and falls backwards onto the ground underneath their apartment and lands herself a trip to the hospital. In Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch, Hannah is forced to move back to Charleston, South Carolina, her hometown, to live with her mother and step-father for a month of exile until she can straighten out her life.