Shelf Life Blog
What would Jane Austen’s delicate world look like from the point of view of the young woman who launders the family’s linen? Life at Longbourn can be as raw as Sarah the housemaid’s hands as she lugs buckets of water across an icy courtyard. It’s not that the Bennet family isn’t well-liked by their servants. It’s simply that there’s a world of difference between what goes on above and below stairs, as Jo Baker deftly shows in her award-winning novel.
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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver: "The mother of an incarcerated teenager who murdered seven of his fellow high school students tells of his upbringing and her own shortcomings in a series of letters to her estranged husband."
If you liked We Need to Talk About Kevin, you may enjoy the following titles:
Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern
A young girl has been murdered and the only witness is a child who cannot tell what he saw In the woods of a small town, Adam, a nine-year-old autistic boy, is discovered hiding near to the body of his classmate. They both wandered off from the school playground several hours earlier, and now the police are relying on Adam as the only witness to an appalling crime. But he can’t tell the police what he saw or what he heard. Barely verbal on the best of days, Adam has retreated into a silent world that Cara, his mother, knows only too well.With her community in shock and her son unable to help with the police investigation, Cara tries to decode the puzzling events. (catalog description)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor's beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover's charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna's willful twin sister Kainene.(catalog description)
From pirates flying kites to superheroes rescuing kittens, Not Every Princess transforms the usual suspects of children’s literature into something delightful and new.
In Georgette Heyer’s The Unfinished Clue, it becomes evident that whilst some marriages end happily, others end in murder. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith was dead, and he probably deserved it. He had been chuffing and harrumphing at his male guests, leering--and perhaps a bit more--at the female ones, all the while being quite revolting to his wife.
Aren’t English country house parties entertaining? Well, they are when penned by a master craftsman such as Georgette Heyer. Her thoroughly modern (for the early twentieth century) heroine Dinah, sister to the beleaguered soon-to-be widow, has a clever wit and no intention whatsoever of being set down by her blowhard brother-in-law.
Video games? Check. Alien invaders? Check. Special appearances from world-renowned scientists? Triple-check! Armada, by Ernest Cline, has it all. He is back on our radar with another chart-topping classic for geeks and muggles alike. If you are a fan of Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, and The Last Starfighter, this is the book for you. So, grab your Game Boys, tablets and keyboards. It is time to save the world.
"Don't Push the Button!" exclaims a purple creature named Larry in Bill Cotter's tempting picture book. Despite this rule, even Larry seems pretty intrigued by what would happen if someone were to touch that big, red button. No one is looking, so maybe we should give it a try.
With the push of a button and the turn of the page, Larry turns completely yellow! Another push and he is covered in polka dots. A third try leads to two Larrys on the same page. After that, things become even stranger.
Since moving to Fredericksburg, I’ve discovered the joys of NPR, and, in particular, Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. The combination of driving the area’s picturesque roads and listening to a variety of scintillating interviews never fails to brighten my day. Whether it’s mushroom hunters searching for the holy grail of fungi, a discussion about the after-death experience, or a conversation with today’s in-vogue actor, singer or writer, I’m hooked.
Recently on my way to work at the Headquarters branch, I tuned in to hear Terry interviewing Vendela Vida about her latest fiction work, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. The book’s unusual premise immediately grabbed me. And I was equally intrigued to learn that Vida is married to Dave Eggers, a prolific author of many titles, including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.
Matt Miller’s mother is dead. Every day, he wakes up and puts on the same suit that he wore to her funeral. At work, at school…everywhere he goes, Matt is The Boy in the Black Suit.
"Being a dinosaur is hard," insists a green Tyrannosaurus Rex in Rawr! He is bigger than all the other kids in class, as well as his teachers, and even the school bus! This carnivorous kid literally has a lot of trouble fitting in at school.