Shelf Life Blog

I Remember You—A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

I Remember You—A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

They were only going to be there a week on the deserted Icelandic island. It sounded like it could be a great adventure, even without electricity. The three of them, husband and wife Garðar and Katrin along with beautiful, spoiled Lif, had decided to renovate an old cottage. The place in summer was amazing, teeming with tourists so the house is a potential rental gold mine. Yet in the winter, not a living soul is to be found. I Remember You, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, begins with only a hint of the chilling disasters to follow.

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

Many novels with animal protagonists go to great lengths to anthropomorphize them, giving them names, extensive language, and culture that strongly resemble those of humans. Paleontologist Robert Bakker goes the opposite route with his novel Raptor Red. He creates a primeval world viewed through the eyes of dinosaurs and other creatures of the Early Cretaceous epoch.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

"Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger."

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild takes on proper behavior and tears it to shreds. At the beginning of Peter Brown's picture book, four-legged animals walk stiffly upright, wear suits, dresses, top hats, and bonnets. Elephants, bears, and deer all have perfect posture. Every house on the block looks exactly the same, and our striped protagonist is sick of it.

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City is perhaps the catchiest, most joyous-sounding album to explore death that I have ever heard. The third release from collegiate prep rockers Vampire Weekend shows emotional and musical growth as lead singer Ezra Koening struggles with his own mortality.

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

It was Melander’s silver tongue that got the others to try to run, or rather paddle, 1200 miles to a new life. All four Swedes wanted the same—to be away from the boredom and poverty of their years-long indentures. Melander had been a sailor before being put to cut wood at New Archangel in Russian North America, and the icy waters beckoned to him.

The two others he wanted were a stolid woodsman and hunter named Karlsson and an uncommonly sweet-faced thief named Braaf. The fourth, well, he tumbled to the plan and what could the rest do? Obnoxious wind-bag though he was.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up's title is a video game reference, but it is also a metaphor for accepting responsibility and gaining maturity as one ages, which are qualities that Dennis Ouyang needs serious help with.

From the first time Dennis ever saw a Pac Man console as a child, he was mesmerized by the power that video games had. The idea of endless entertainment, based on skill and incredibly interactive, transfixes him.

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Niño is one remarkable little boy. He may look like an ordinary child playing with his toys. When he picks up his red mask though, Niño Wrestles the World.

Yuyi Morales has combined the two disparate worlds of children's literature and Lucha libre to create an unforgettable book.  Niño is great both as a multicultural read and as just a fun romp.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Technology for good and wonderful purposes is good and wonderful, right? That is the jumping off point for The Circle, by Dave Eggers. The Circle is a company that has figured out a way to link every bit of online life into one package. Banking, blogging, buying—it’s all connected. No anonymity online—everything is completely polite and nice, as well as totally secure. The company has created or invested in other awesome projects—and all of them are things that Make Life Better. Who doesn’t want to eliminate child abductions? Or, make voter registration super easy—AND immune to any fraud! Or map the entire Amazon rainforest. Or, or, or, or. The list of what the Circle is doing is endless and SO COOL AND INSANELY AWESOME.

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, by Tom Gauld, is to literature and history what Gary Larson's The Far Side is to biology and beehive hairdos. Gauld takes on Dickens and Shakespeare with whimsical glee. He muses on the creativity of artists and writers while conjuring ridiculous asides.

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter

At home in England, she’s Lady Rachel and waited on by servants whilst living at the ancient family manor. She loves nearly everything about Gryphon Park—except being alone. But all of that is about to change. As the youngest child in a family of powerful magicians, Rachel is about to embark on a great adventure as she enters Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts. Invisible to the Unwary, the campus holds glorious wonders, age-old treasures, and is a gateway to secrets beyond Rachel’s imagining.