Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Thu, 05/04/2017 - 2:29am
Life on Mars by Jon Agee

Since the beginning of time, humans have wondered about the depths of space and the exploration we can achieve. What if there's life out there? What about life on Mars?

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 12:15pm
The Gunslinger, The Dark Tower Book 1

Stephen King is best known for his terrifying and macabre horror novels. Many of his sadistic stories have grazed the minds of readers over the years. King loves to leave an uncomfortable impact on the psyche of his readers through nightmare-fueled characters such as the evil Pennywise, the Dancing Clown in IT (1980); the vicious vampire Kurt Barlow in 'Salems Lot (1975); and, of course, the dangerously haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1977).

One of his epic, long-lasting creations is The Dark Tower series. Last year, Columbia Pictures announced that it's releasing a movie based on The Dark Tower series, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. To King's fans' dismay (and delight, in some cases), the film will not be an adaptation of first installment, The Gunslinger. Instead, it will be a quasi-sequel to the whole series, following the ending of the last book, The Dark Tower. It will be released August 4, 2017. Check out the first offical trailer below.

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 2:28am
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

Author Jennifer Wright studies plagues. Often individuals ask if she studies "modern" plagues, such as using your cell phone too much. But in her new book Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, she reveals that her interest lies within the history of plagues where you break out in sores and turn feverish. The kind of plagues that kill you.

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 2:28am
Cover to The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

2017 falls during the 100th anniversary of World War I, and The Summer Before the War is the perfect novel to remind us of the world-changing conflict’s impact. In the novel, England is in the midst of fighting the Great War. For the small town of Rye in Sussex, all of the moral complexities of that war are realized. Helen Simonson is a master of gentle and sometimes fierce satire in this comedy of manners, as she was in her first novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

The first three parts of The Summer Before the War have a lighter tone as the characters are gently satirized for their foibles. There is nostalgia for the Edwardian innocence still left in the town of Rye, but cruel prejudice and gossip also reside in the town. All the characters seem like good people, but Helen Simonson cleverly reveals their flaws. Beatrice Nash enters the scene as the first female Latin “master” for the local grammar school. Beatrice has recently lost her father, whom she idolized, but she will not bow to the dictates and restrictions of how her family and society want her to lead her life, so she must earn her way.

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 2:27am
Cover to The Passion of Dolssa: A Novel by Julie Berry

Three young sisters with a thieving past, Botille, Plazensa and Sazia were wanderers, surviving by any means necessary, moving from place to place once they wore out their welcome. The three sisters and Jabau, Sazia’s father, traveled to the French seaside town of Bajas, where for once they put down roots and became if not quite respected, still valuable residents. They open up a tavern and use their individual talents to bring in extra money. The observant and quick talking Botille becomes the town’s matchmaker; Plazensa puts her feminine wiles to use; and Sazia possesses her deceased mother’s ability to tell fortunes. In Bajas, they finally feel secure and content with their lives.

Dolssa is a noblewoman from Tolosa, who speaks of her beloved "Jhesus" to her family and friends who gather in crowds to hear her. But this is a very troubling time in the 13th century, shortly after a holy war has ravaged the countryside, dealing death to those judged as heretics as well as their enemy, the established Church. So, for Dolssa to have unsanctioned discussions about God and her personal relationship with her beloved Jhesus is reckless and does not go unnoticed. Dolssa is condemned as a heretic by Friar Lucien and is sentenced to death. 

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 2:24am
If you like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This readalike is in response to a customer'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. You can browse the book matches here.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” ― Offred, The Handmaid's Tale

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules. (catalog summary)

The Handmaid's Tale is an upcoming American television series based on the book. It has been ordered by streaming service Hulu with a straight-to-series order, with the production beginning in late 2016. Atwood will serve as consulting producer.¹ Elisabeth Moss will star in the series, along with Joseph Fiennes, Alexis Bledel, and Madeline Brewer. It will premiere on April 26, 2017. There has been two movies based on Atwood's book: 1990's The Handmaid's Tale, and 2016's The Handmaiden. See the first trailer below book suggestions.


If you enjoyed the dystopian themes of this novel and would be interested in similar works, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 

1984
1984
by George Orwell
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions--a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time. (catalog summary)

 

 


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