Shelf Life Blog

Numbers (Audiobook) by Rachel Ward

Jem stays away from people.  She is a loner and she likes it that way.  Then she meets Spider one day under a bridge in London.  As much as she tries, he won't leave her alone.  She rarely makes eye contact with people and for good reason.  When Jem looks into people's eyes she can see the day they are going to die.  She looks into Spider's eyes.  This is the basis for the story Numbers by Rachel Ward (audiobook version).

Despite Jem's efforts, she and Spider form a friendship, which eventually evolves into something more when they decide to run away together.  This happens after a trip to the London Eye.  Jem looks into the eyes of the people waiting in line to board the attraction and she realizes that they all have the same  death date...that very day.  Jem suddenly realizes that something catastrophic is going to happen and that she and Spider have to get away immediately.  While they are running away a tragic event occurs.  Jem and Spider are safe...but are they? The surveillance cameras capture their escape and suddenly they are wanted by authorities for questioning.  Jem and Spider steal a car and head west across England.   As they continue to outrun the authorities, their relationship grows. 

Fast paced and gritty ...this audio will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The reader is adept at the various accents found throughout England.  The story is touching and engaging.  Jem and Spider provide such compelling characters that you can't help rooting for them. 

The ending was stunning and completey unexpected...at least by me!!!

If You Like "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls...

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.

If you like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, here are several inspiring memoirs of people who have survived extremely abusive and difficult childhoods, yet who have found success in their adult lives. The stories are grim but inspiring.

All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg.
This haunting, harrowing, and gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin tells the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt poor in Alabama, and who became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for "The New York Times". 
 

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown.
The bestselling memoir of Cupcake Brown's harrowing and inspiring life from the streets to one of the nation's largest law firms The book bedazzles the reader with the amazing change that is possible in one lifetime.

 

 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

I just read One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. I really, really enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction and am usually attracted to any new historical fiction title that comes through our Children’s area. I’m just sort of magnetically attracted to these books. But with this one, my radar was ringing in my head and alarms were going off… Check me out… Check me out! The book cover is beautifully illustrated and so attractive! It would catch any reader’s eye, even those reluctant to read “History” books. 

The setting is back in the late 1960’s, Oakland, California, during the beginning of the “Black Panther” movement. It was a time of civil distress and upheaval across the country and within the Black community. It was the time of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and the clash of their two philosophies.
 
Three young sisters are sent to spend the summer with their mother who they have not seen since the youngest sister was born seven years ago. Big Ma, their grandmother, doesn’t want them to go and warns Pa what a bad idea this is. But, Pa says, ”It’s time. They need to know Cecile.”   

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

Charlotte Ellison lives a outwardly beatific and genuinely boring existence at her home in the London suburbs. To her mind, her most vexing problems are her father’s refusal to allow her to read his newspapers—a common enough attitude in Victorian England—and her unresolved, unadmitted crush on her brother-in-law Dominic. Anne Perry’s Cater Street Hangman portrays Charlotte’s extremely circumscribed position as one that might have yawningly gone on for years, filled with good works and a suitable marriage, were it not for the gruesome murders of young girls in the environs of her Cater Street home.

The Great Stink by Clare Clark

Clare Clark's The Great Stink brings to life the literal dank and dismal underbelly of Victorian London.

During the summer of 1858 a heat wave gripped London. The water level in the Thames sank from the accompanying drought. Raw sewage flowed into the Thames, spilled over the banks, and caused a stench that filled the city. The powerful machinery of the House of Commons ground to a halt as a hot, fetid miasma enveloped the chambers. Curtains soaked in a solution of chloride of lime did nothing to block the foul air. The Great Stink had arrived.

An outbreak of cholera rapidly followed. Members of Parliament, sick and dizzy from the heat and smell, finally passed legislation to fund a new sanitary sewage system for the city of London. The newly formed Metropolitan Board of Works got busy. Engineers and surveyors were hired. Massive contracts for bricks and supplies and construction were awarded. The potential for profits - and corruption - was enormous.

Pretty Little Liars

Seventh graders Emily, Spencer, Aria and Hanna worship Alison in Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars. Alison’s the prettiest, most popular girl at Rosewood Day School. When the five girls are thrown together at their school’s charity drive, they quickly become friends. Over a year later, the girls are still friends, but the power Ali wields over them all has them feeling uncomfortable. She knows all of their deep, dark secrets: secrets that could ruin their lives if anyone else found out. When Ali disappears, the four girls are shaken, but also…relieved.

Three years later the girls start getting strange text messages, emails and notes from someone: someone who seems to know all of those secrets that they thought were safe since the disappearance of Ali. The messages get more and more threatening and the girls can’t help but wonder: Is Ali sending the messages? If not, then who?
 

If You Like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ...

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.

If you liked  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, outrageous humor may be the draw.
If so, you may want to try one of the books listed below:

The Philosophical Strangler by Eric Flint 
Greyboar's professional career as an assassin for hire falls prey to his penchant for philosophy as moral qualms intervene to cause disaster in even the simplest tasks. The latest fantasy by the author of 1632 features an angst-ridden hero, a fast-talking side-kick, fast-paced action, and bawdy humor. Though sometimes the comedy misses the mark,
Flint tells a multilayered tale of camaraderie in the face of misadventure with apologies to the great philosophers. (Library Journal)

The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo 
Raunchy, uproarious silliness in the time-honored sf tradition of alternative history. (Library Journal) Features 19th century stories of Queen Victoria, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Hottentots in Massachusets.

 

 

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara

A young girl and her cat enter a dark, old, ramshackle house. Ghosts are waiting for her there. As she opens the door they all fly out. This is where the fun begins in Kazuno Kohara’s Ghosts in the House!

The book dodges a potentially frightening situation by having the little girl don a witch hat and immediately contain the ghosts. She washes them out and uses them as helpful household items like tablecloths and curtains. Our main character is not only brave, but friendly too, and the ghosts enjoy assisting her throughout her daily tasks.
 
The charm of the book comes from the simple text combined with bold illustrations. The limited use of color (orange, black, and white) allows the pictures to jump off the page and create a powerful Halloween world for you to enter. White ghosts have a texture and dimension as if someone had stamped them onto the pages with a wood block. All of these stylistic choices make the book feel like a hidden gem from the 1950’s, when really it was only published a couple of years ago. Kohara followed her debut picture book with one that may be worth checking out in a couple of months, the equally delightful Here Comes Jack Frost.
 
Looking for a children’s book that will evoke the spooky fun of Halloween without scaring the younger ones? Kazuno Kohara’s Ghosts in the House! has it all.

Big Buy Cooking from the Editors of Fine Cooking

As a Fine Cooking magazine subscriber and fan, whenever the Fine Cooking team releases a new book I rush to check it out. The title of this new volume, Big Buy Cooking: The Food Lover’s Guide to Buying in Bulk and Using it All Up, appealed to me as a mom of four children who often shops at bulk warehouses like Costco. I was a little surprised to see that the “bulk” ingredients included such items as kalamata olives, brie, and mangoes….all of which I would consider a pricier gourmet option, not a weekday dinnertime staple.

The introduction, however, explains that the purpose of this book is to give you options to fall back on when you come home with that large wheel of brie from Costco: “It’s cheap, ripe, and calling out to you. Go on, give in. Once home, cut yourself a wedge to enjoy with grapes and crackers…brie on crostini, warm and melting, with dates and walnuts. Brie, ham, and tart apples on a toasted baguette, with a hint of Dijon mustard and honey. Brie in the best-ever version of fondue.” So, once you know that this book is not going to save you money but is going to aid your food indulgences, you can feel free to dabble.

The Dog Selector by David Alderton

If you are thinking about being a dog owner, whether it's your first time or your first time considering a new breed, you'll want to check out The Dog Selector: How to Choose the Right Dog for You by David Alderton. 

The Dog Selector provides an overview of 130 popular dog breeds with the goal of pairing a potential owner with the right type of dog for his or her lifestyle. Alderton provides a brief history of each breed as well as a "canine characteristics" chart which covers personality, exercise requirements, typical behavior at home and in public, grooming requirements, and common health issues. Of course, you'll see a picture of each dog and sometimes a puppy too!

Each chapter features ten breeds (which can vary widely in size and look) which share common characteristics that would make them good for beginners, or low-maintenance (and high-maintenance too, if you're brave and energetic), or good for people with allergies, or good for families, etc.