Shelf Life Blog

08/27/2015 - 4:17pm
The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer

In Georgette Heyer’s The Unfinished Clue, it becomes evident that whilst some marriages end happily, others end in murder. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith was dead, and he probably deserved it. He had been chuffing and harrumphing at his male guests, leering--and perhaps a bit more--at the female ones, all the while being quite revolting to his wife.

Aren’t English country house parties entertaining? Well, they are when penned by a master craftsman such as Georgette Heyer. Her thoroughly modern (for the early twentieth century) heroine Dinah, sister to the beleaguered soon-to-be widow, has a clever wit and no intention whatsoever of being set down by her blowhard brother-in-law.

08/24/2015 - 2:41am
Armada by Ernest Cline

Video games? Check. Alien invaders? Check. Special appearances from world-renowned scientists? Triple-check! Armada, by Ernest Cline, has it all. He is back on our radar with another chart-topping classic for geeks and muggles alike. If you are a fan of Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, and The Last Starfighter, this is the book for you. So, grab your Game Boys, tablets and keyboards. It is time to save the world.

08/20/2015 - 12:40pm
Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter

"Don't Push the Button!" exclaims a purple creature named Larry in Bill Cotter's tempting picture book. Despite this rule, even Larry seems pretty intrigued by what would happen if someone were to touch that big, red button. No one is looking, so maybe we should give it a try.

With the push of a button and the turn of the page, Larry turns completely yellow! Another push and he is covered in polka dots. A third try leads to two Larrys on the same page. After that, things become even stranger.

08/19/2015 - 2:37am
The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Since moving to Fredericksburg, I’ve discovered the joys of NPR, and, in particular, Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. The combination of driving the area’s picturesque roads and listening to a variety of scintillating interviews never fails to brighten my day. Whether it’s mushroom hunters searching for the holy grail of fungi, a discussion about the after-death experience, or a conversation with today’s in-vogue actor, singer or writer, I’m hooked.

Recently on my way to work at the Headquarters branch, I tuned in to hear Terry interviewing Vendela Vida about her latest fiction work, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. The book’s unusual premise immediately grabbed me. And I was equally intrigued to learn that Vida is married to Dave Eggers, a prolific author of many titles, including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

08/18/2015 - 2:37am
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife is an intense and richly rewarding reading experience that is also an intimate family story. Like her beloved grandfather before her, Natalia has beaten the odds in the war-torn Balkans to become a doctor. With a heart for others and her best friend at her side, she is trying to deliver and administer vaccines to orphans when she receives word that her grandfather has died.

It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.

08/17/2015 - 2:36am
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Matt Miller’s mother is dead. Every day, he wakes up and puts on the same suit that he wore to her funeral. At work, at school…everywhere he goes, Matt is The Boy in the Black Suit.

08/18/2015 - 10:53am
Rawr! by Todd H. Doodler

"Being a dinosaur is hard," insists a green Tyrannosaurus Rex in Rawr! He is bigger than all the other kids in class, as well as his teachers, and even the school bus! This carnivorous kid literally has a lot of trouble fitting in at school.

08/13/2015 - 9:45am
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Christine has amnesia. Every day she wakes up not knowing where she is or who’s sleeping next to her. As the day unfolds, she learns that she was involved in a horrific car accident. And, although she has no recollection of him, the man in her bed turns out to be her husband Ben, who has patiently stuck with her throughout her lengthy ordeal. Thus begins Before I Go to Sleep, the debut novel by S. J. Watson.

08/11/2015 - 2:32am
Beekeeping for Beginners: A Short Story by Laurie R. King

Sherlock Holmes is looking for a swarm of wild bees and perhaps something more personally sinister at the start of Beekeeping for Beginners. What, or rather whom, he finds instead is a young person, dressed in good if tattered clothes, whose wits and keen observation are a surprising match for his own.

08/06/2015 - 2:29am
Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman and Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

When a little bear cub stumbles upon a plate of cookies and a teddy bear sitting in the middle of the woods, he thinks the stuffed animal is the owner of the sweet treats. "I'll eat the cookies for you," he promises. Little does he know that someone else is calling the shots. In order to get at those cookies, Cub will have to follow some Tea Party Rules.

A girl shows up and quickly notices a difference about her bear companion. "You're grubby. Tea Party Rule: you must be clean." Hopefully Cub likes baths as much as he likes cookies, but I doubt it.


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