Shelf Life Blog

03/14/2011 - 2:35pm
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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. See other book matches here.

"The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great literary adventures; indeed, William Thackeray was so enthralled he began reading `at six one morning and never stopped till eleven at night'. The hero is Edmond Dantes, a young sailor who, falsely accused of treason, is arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned in the island fortress of Chateau d'If. After staging a dramatic escape he sets out to discover the fabulous treasure of Monte Cristo and catch up with his enemies. A novel of enormous tension and excitement, Monte Cristo is also a tale of obsession and revenge, with Dantes, believing himself to be an `Angel of Providence', pursuing his vengeance to the bitter end before realizing that he himself is a victim of fate." (Book Summary)

If you liked The Count of Monte Cristo, then you may also like these titles and authors.

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Hooded figures, apparently acting on the behalf of Fray Emilio Bocanegra, "president of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition," hire famed soldier Capt. Diego Alatriste to murder two Englishmen who have come to Madrid. One of the hooded figures, however, begs Alatriste (out of earshot of the others) only to wound the pair. When Alatriste and his fellow assassin, an ill-humored Italian, surprise the British, the captain is impressed by the fighting spirit they show, and he prevents the assassination from taking place. (The Italian, infuriated, swears eternal revenge.) When the Englishmen turn out to be on an important mission, Alatriste suddenly finds himself caught between a number of warring factions, Spanish and otherwise. (from Publishers Weekly)

The Eight by Katherine Neville
Catherine Velis, a computer expert banished to Algeria by her accounting firm, gets caught up in a search for a legendary chess set once owned by Charlemagne. An antique dealer, a Soviet chess master, KGB agents and a fortune-teller who warns Catherine she's in big trouble all covet the fabled chess pieces, because the chess service, buried for 1000 years in a French abbey, supplies the key to a magic formula tied to numerology, alchemy, the Druids, Freemasonry, cosmic powers. (from Publishers Weekly)

02/03/2011 - 9:02am
Car Science by Richard Hammond

Kids who like car books soon outgrow the ones with nice pictures and simple diagrams—and then what? What do you give a car-crazy kid who – might – be drawn into the fascinating world of science and engineering if he had the right teacher? Most car books for older kids are chock full of dull details and have no excitement whatsoever. They drone. They drag. They discourage with their very verbiage. We’ve got a cure for that.  Richard Hammond, star of the BBC’s Top Gear and past host of Brainiac: Science Abuse, has teamed with picture-mad DK publishing to bring off Car Science: An Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work.

The book is divided into four very fun, very illustrated sections: Power, Speed, Handling, and Technology. There’s never a dull moment as Mr. Hammond divulges details of “…everything you need to know to be a real driving expert. How a turbocharger works, how gasoline is made; we’ll look inside gearboxes and learn why a Formula 1 car’s brakes glow pink when it’s stopping. And, at the end, we’ll look at the kind of cars that we might be driving in the future.”
02/02/2011 - 3:31am
Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

“My origins are a prison graveyard, the cadavers of criminals – combined, revitalized, reborn.” - Deucalion

The myth of the evil scientist and his tortured, grotesque creations has fascinated us since Mary Shelley’s inaugural novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus was published anonymously in 1818. It spawned variations on the same theme in print and cinema, testifying that this story is now firmly embedded in our popular culture. Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son reworks the classic Frankenstein story for modern times, adding in some great suspenseful elements, science fiction (a la the Stepford Wives), and elements of dark fantasy to make a rollicking read.
 
The story opens with Deucalion, the anguished, tattooed monstrosity who has sought solace away from condemning eyes in the mountains of Tibet. Deucalion receives a letter that brings terrifying news – someone evil, whom he thought was destroyed – is still alive and doing awful things in New Orleans. Meanwhile, a serial killer is hunting down women throughout the city, leaving each corpse with missing body parts. Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison are on the case, horrified by each grisly discovery and perplexed by the lack of clues leading to a suspect.
04/03/2014 - 1:34pm
Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson

I love making one-dish dinners for my family like chicken n’ dumplings, lasagna, or chili. These dishes may take longer to prepare or cook, but in the end they are delicious and well-loved by kids and adults alike. Pam Anderson’s new book, Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers, combines making homey comfort food with socializing. What a great idea! Anderson scripts the whole meal for you, providing simple, yet delicious, menus to accompany the main dishes. 

The main recipe categories are stews, casseroles, roasting pan, and summer salad/grilled platters. For each main dish mentioned, there is also a suggested appetizer, salad, and dessert. There are even “instant alternatives” for the occasions when you don’t have the time or right ingredients to make the suggested recipe. Each section is rounded off with a helpful wine and beer suggestion.
01/31/2011 - 3:30am
Dark Water by Laura McNeal

Sometimes we make choices that have unexpected and devastating consequences. In Dark Water by Laura McNeal, 15-year-old narrator Pearl begins her story with just such a dark foreboding. Then, page by page, chapter after chapter, the shocking story unfolds.

Pearl and her mother live in the modest guesthouse of her uncle’s southern California avocado ranch since her parent’s messy divorce. Passing groups of day-laborers on her daily commute to school, Pearl is drawn to Amiel, an older boy with a talent for mime. After convincing Uncle Hoyt to hire Amiel, she learns that he lives alone in a makeshift hut in the woods, evading la migra, the border patrol. Throughout that dry, searing summer, Pearl watches Amiel, fascinated by his mysterious inability to talk.
01/28/2011 - 8:08am
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

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.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
In 1932, two North Carolina teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love. Spending one idyllic summer together in the small town of New Bern, Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson do not meet again for 14 years. Noah has returned from WWII to restore the house of his dreams, having inherited a large sum of money. Allie, programmed by family and the "caste system of the South" to marry an ambitious, prosperous man, has become engaged to powerful attorney Lon Hammond. When she reads a newspaper story about Noah's restoration project, she shows up on his porch step, re-entering his life for two days. Will Allie leave Lon for Noah? (Publishers Weekly Review)

If you like The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Beauty by Susan Wilson
Beauty
by Susan Wilson
Every reader is familiar with the popular tale of Beauty and the Beast. But what if the fairy tale came true? Beauty tells the story of a modern woman who learns to love the deeper man, beyond all appearances; it is a totally credible, contemporary retelling of the classic tale.



The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope Stokes
The Blue Bottle Club
by Penelope Stokes
A jaded TV reporter finds a bottle where four young girls recorded their hopes and dreams on the eve of the Depression and decides to find out how their lives turned out.

 

 

01/27/2011 - 3:31am
Pete the Cat cover image

Pete the cat loves his white shoes.  He loves them so very much that he sings about them.  One day while he is walking and singing he steps in some strawberries and his shoes turn red.  But instead of becoming angry, he sings about how much he loves his red shoes.  When he steps in mud and his shoes turn brown, instead of becoming angry, he sings about how much he loves his brown shoes.  The book Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean is a great picture book about a cat that "goes with the flow."

Pete's philosophy is summed up at the end by his statement that "no matter what you step in just keep walking along and singing your song."

01/26/2011 - 8:19am
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Sometimes you love a book so much that it becomes like an old friend. When you need the memory of that book, it comes back to you and comforts you from time to time. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is like that for me.

Two years after the September 11 attacks, I decided that my 13-year-old son didn’t read enough books during his summer school breaks. I decided to host a book club for him and four of his best friends. We always met at fun places to discuss the books we read – poolside, pizza parlors, water parks, etc. We read about five books that summer, but the book we all loved the most was Green Angel. The book is about Green, a moody 15-year-old girl. She was the daughter of a farmer who grew produce which the family sold in the city. One day, after a fight with her family, she insists on staying home when they go into the city. There is a huge explosion in the city which causes her to lose some of her vision, and ash keeps falling for days.

01/25/2011 - 11:10am
Juliet by Fortier

We are all familiar with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. We also remember the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Finally, I’d be willing to bet that many of you know the Bard’s famous play was set in Verona, Italy. However, here are a few facts that might surprise you. Shakespeare’s telling was the culmination of several previous versions by various other authors. The original lovers were Giuletta Tolomei and Romeo Marescotti. There was, indeed, bad blood between the families, and the tale was set in Siena, not Verona. In a new telling, Anne Fortier’s Juliet alternates between a 20th-century pairing of Guiletta and Romeo and their 15th-century alter egos.

Julie Jacobs’ father perishes in an unexplained fire. Two years later, her mother dies in a suspicious auto accident. Fearing harm to toddler Julie and her twin sister Janice, their Aunt Rose whisks the children from Italy to the United States. Together with her live-in assistant Umberto, she raises the girls but for years avoids discussing anything related to the twins’ parents and their untimely demise.

01/25/2011 - 9:51am
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group.  In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around.  Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her.  They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings.  Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group.  She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions.  While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped.  There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.

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