Shelf Life Blog

01/22/2013 - 3:33am
Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

A relative of one of my customers called me from Hawaii to tell me that I had to read this book. I can always tell it is he when I pick up the phone and hear, "Aloha!!!"  He didn't want to tell me too much about Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist, because he didn't want to spoil anything for me. However, he did want me to call him to discuss the book as soon as I finished it.

After reading it, I have to say that if you like Stephen King, you would enjoy Little Star, which focuses on two girls—one of whom is a sociopath and another who idolizes and wants to be just like her.

01/21/2013 - 7:37am
The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman gives readers a look at America’s past while at the same time encouraging them to take a hard look at its present. The novel centers around a 13-year-old girl named Sophie who lives with her recently divorced mother in New Orleans, Louisiana. The story opens with Sophie being taken to a rural part of Louisiana to spend the summer with her maiden aunt and ailing grandmother at the family’s crumbling plantation house while her mother stays in the city and studies to become an accountant.

01/17/2013 - 3:32am
Goldilocks and The Three Dinosaurs

In Goldilocks and The Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur and another unnamed Dinosaur visiting from Norway just happened to make three big bowls of delicious chocolate pudding and leave them out in the open while they went “someplace else.” Of course these dinosaurs did not know that Goldilocks would be coming around soon, and they certainly weren’t terribly hungry...

01/16/2013 - 3:33am
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Australia—a land of kangaroos, koala bears, 12-foot earthworms, killer seashells, and Prime Ministers who disappear in the surf—provides a rich adventure for those who are not afraid to possibly encounter some of the world’s deadliest creatures and forbidding terrain.  Bill Bryson, author of the bestseller A Walk in the Woods, invites us on his treks throughout the Land Down Under from the comfort of our own homes (away from the deadly box jellyfish and toxic caterpillars) in his book, In a Sunburned Country.

07/21/2015 - 10:34am
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

I’m pretty certain I must have been an explorer—famous or otherwise—in a past life. Reading the globe-trotting adventures of others can entertain me for hours as I practically salivate over the descriptions of the sights, the culture, the food…you name it; hence my interest in Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven. Author Susan Jane Gilman details her story of what started as the trip of a lifetime for two recent college graduates, until something went terribly wrong.

01/14/2013 - 7:43am
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

A Covenant and a Code

In Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel, it’s been hundreds of years since the mysterious Hill Folk went to war with the people of Remalna to defend their groves of colortrees, whose rich hues of blue and red and gold made them valuable for trade. The Hill Folk fought back with their all of their magical powers and easily defeated their foes. At last a truce was reached. The Remalnan settlers would cut no more wood, and in exchange the Hill Folk would give magical Fire Sticks to last them the winter.

01/10/2013 - 3:30am
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95

Moonbird, by Phillip Hoose, is the story of an incredible bird, B95. Through his story, we learn about an amazing species of tiny shore bird, the Rufa Red Knot. The size of a robin, this bird has one of the longest distance migrations of any animal — more than 18,000 miles in a round trip. B95 has made that trip 20 times, flying the equivalent of the distance to the moon and halfway back, earning him the nickname Moonbird.

01/09/2013 - 3:31am
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

In its first chapters, Sweet Tooth begins like Dickens’ David Copperfield.  Serena Frome (rhymes with Plume) tells of her unremarkable childhood and how she ends up working as a spy for Britain’s MI5. With her blonde and beautiful looks, she is a bit of a Bond Girl and wreaks havoc on the men around her.

A good all-around student, Serena devours novels and wants to do an English degree in a small university, but her housewife mother, in an uncharacteristic fit of feminism, tells her she has a chance of making something of herself by going to Cambridge and doing “maths.” 

01/08/2013 - 2:02pm
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

What's wrong with this story:

A father tells the authorities his daughter can do impossible things AND the authorities believe him. 
A soon-to-be bride promises to give her future baby away to a TROLL. 
Said bride agrees to marry the man who's threatened to kill her if she can't keep doing the impossible. 
What would a troll do with a baby anyhow, and why would he give her all that spun gold for a tiny ring? 
Why doesn't the heroine do ANYTHING to get herself out of this predicament?!

This old fairy tale is such a ridiculous story that the author wanted to fix it. So Vivian Vande Velde set out to do so six different ways in The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. The characters never come out the same in these retellings. The troll in "A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste" has gruesome appetites. "Straw Into Gold" has our beauty and her father resorting to an elaborate con game to keep from starving to death in the days before Social Security or insurance.

01/08/2013 - 2:12pm
Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

Tom Bissell's Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creations represents the best of what an essay collection can offer: incisive observations about a wide range of intriguing topics, intelligent social commentary that refrains from didacticism, and a good sense of comedic timing. Bissell's essays are characterized by impressive eclecticism. He discusses established cultural figures like Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Werner Herzog, as well as less conventional subjects, such as Tommy Wiseau (the auteur responsible for the cult film The Room), the Underground Literary Alliance, and Jennifer Hale, “the Queen of Video-game Voice-over.” While these topics might seem incurably disparate, Bissell's interest in the process and consequences of creation provides a framework which links them together.

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