Shelf Life – Issue #230

In a somewhat perfect world this would have been the April 2021 issue of Shelf Life. But as we all know the world has been far from perfect. In fact, it has been turned upside down for more than a year. Businesses are still restricted customer wise, and libraries are still limiting the amount of patrons who can enter. As well, publications such as Shelf Life still cannot be taken into the library. Our past issue, number 229, was left with many businesses not usually taken to previously. But that was fine, because the issues were picked up and new readers came on board.

While this is issue 230, it also signifies our 23rd anniversary issue. It was in April 1998 that Shelf Life premiered, and while we strive for the day when we can get back to a monthly print frequency, in the interim we are creating as many issues as possible. But we have acquired a worldwide audience since we are now found on Facebook’s Shelf Life Book Review pages and on You Tube’s Shelf Life Book Review Channel. In fact as of this writing there are around 45 such videos with over 100 book reviews, both fiction and non-fiction on these sites.

Soon, I hope to include reviews on Good Reads’ web pages as well, so if there is one positive to publishing less at the moment, it has given time to a definite Web presence like never before.

 Again with this issue, there are shorter reviews to try to include as many reviews as possible. No bookmarks are given, as all books noted here we highly recommend.

Thanks for picking up this issue. We also hope you will send your feedback about this issue and if you take the time to view us online, about those videos as well. Please remember to stay social distancing, stay well, and above all, stay safe.

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***

Bloody Genius
by John Sandford
Putnam – $39.00 – 372 pages
“…Book twelve of the Flowers series, a definite stellar whodunit.”

The Last Sister
by Kendra Elliott
(Montlake – $35.95 – 321 pages)
“Kendra Elliot does a superb job of keeping the tension tight and non-stop. We want to see more of these characters, as book one whet our appetites for book two.”

by Scarlett Thomas
(Canongate – $26.95 – 210 pages)
“The book reminds one of the classic film HEATHERS, where dark undertones control people’s motives. Scarlett Thomas has given us a most interesting book and most unusual characters.”

The Suspect
by Fiona Barton
(Penguin Books of Canada – $24.95 – 404 pages)
“There are tense moments leading to the big reveal and the reasons for the murders. It makes THE SUSPECT a book for those who enjoy complex stories, with lots of layers, and a tremendous payoff with the finale.”

Dead West
by Mat Goldman
(Forge – $36.50 – 320 pages)
“DEAD WEST is a dead-on great mystery, another classic work from Matt Goldman.”

Bad Axe County
by John Galligan
(Atria – $35.00 – 328 pages)
“BAD AXE COUNTRY is a most additive book, where you cannot help be charmed by the character of Heidi Winter.”

These Women
by Ivy Pochoda
(Ecco – $34.99 – 355 pages)
“Ivy Pochoda has created a book in which we care deeply about the characters, even though we know many will not make it to the final pages.”

Never Ask Me
by Jeff Abbott
(Grand Central – $34.00 – 368 pages)
“The ending will cause whiplash with the wild gyrations, as the truths hit the reader from all directions. It makes NEVER ASK ME, a book you should put at the top of your to-read list.”

The Other People
by C.J. Tudor
(Doubleday Canada – $22.00 – 326 pages)
“The book is complex, with psychological overtones and justice for those who de-serve it. … This is by far C. J. Tudor’s best book to date.”

Wherever She Goes
by Kelly Armstrong
(Minotaur – $27.99)
“Every now and then a book comes along, so engrossing, you cannot stop reading it. This is one of those books.”

Sugar Run
by Mesha Maren
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 306 pages)
“It is a book filled with interesting characters, and as the book progresses, we see their flaws that make them the people they are today.”

Something Read, Something Dead
by Eva Gates
(Crooked Lane – $35.99 – 313 pages)
“This novel is the perfect cozy mystery for light reading. Full of drama, suspense and mystery, it makes for a compelling read.”

28 Summers
by Elin Hilderbrand
(Little Brown – $35.00 – 432 pages
“At times the book is predictable romance, but also heartfelt and gripping. 28 SUMMERS look at a special love from the heart, even if only achieved for few days each year. This is one of Elin Hilderbrand’s finest novels.”

The Wives
by Tarryn Fisher
(Graydon House – $22.99 – 333 pages)
“For a true psychological thriller that moves in a dozen different directions, you cannot go wrong with THE WIVES. Tarryn Fisher, author of several previous literary gems, outdoes herself with her latest classic.”

The Girl from Widow Hills
by Megan Miranda
(Simon & Schuster – $24.99 – 323 pages)
“THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS will have you guessing all along, with motive and plenty of suspects.”

The Negotiator
by Brendan Dubois
(Midnight Ink – $21.99 – 297 pages)
“THE NEGOTIATOR also has shades of Jack Reacher thrown in for good measure. The next time you are negotiating what book to read, include this in your list.”

The Poison Flood
by Jordan Farmer
(Putnam – $35.00 – 277 pages)
“THE POISON FLOOD is definitely a change of pace book. It has great moments and characters. Just when you think the book is moving in one direction, it does just the opposite.”

A Conspiracy of Bones
by Kathy Reichs
(Simon & Schuster – $24.99 – 416 pages)
“A CONSPIRACY OF BONES is classic Kathy Reichs, another fantastic work of forensic fiction.”

by Nora Roberts
(St. Martin’s Press – $38.50 – 454 pages)
“HIDEAWAY is typical Nora Roberts, an engrossing tale that gets better with each page. One thing happens often when you read her books. You think the story is moving in one direction, but abruptly takes a U-turn, heading elsewhere.”

The Bones of Wolfe
by James Carlos Blake
(Mysterious Press – $38.95 – 272 pages)
“I have no bones to pick about THE BONES OF WOLFE. There is lots of meat to the tale.”

Polar Vortex
by Shani MooToo
(Book*Hug Press – $23.00 – 284 pages)
“The book is realistic, showcasing the emotions, lives, and loves of its main characters. It is told within a tapestry of life and how lives interact and intersect in life-changing degrees.”

Texas Outlaw
by James Patterson & Andrew Bourelle
(Little Brown – $36.99 – 442 pages)
“Patterson and Bourelle have given us a novel you want to keep reading. It is typical Patterson action and suspense that translates into a superior work.”

Twisted Twenty-Six
by Janet Evanovich
(Putnam – $37.00 – 306 pages)
“You know when you open a Stephanie Plum novel, you are going to be in for the wildest ride possible. Janet Evanovich manages to keep Plum zany and fun, while at the same time creating a compelling read. And with Plum’s sidekick Lula, you know it will get zanier still.”

Do No Harm
by Max Allan Collins
(Forge – $37.99 – 300 pages)
“… we get a fresh take on an old case, but even knowing the outcome, appreciate how cleverly Collins tinkers with time, crime, and history, to not change our opinions, per se, but lets us consider alternate theories as well.”

The Third Mrs. Durst
by Ann Aguirre
(Midnight Ink – $34.99 – 303 pages)
“…an additive book, that you will find twisted, but terrific.”

My Dark Vanessa
by Kate Elizabeth Russell
(William Morrow – $23.99 – 375 pages
“… a powerful and profound novel… a tale of obsession and darkness of the human mind and heart. Russell has captured a young girl’s obsession with an older man, and how it was taken to dangerous levels, affecting not only her life but those around her.”

If It Bleeds
by Stephen King
(Scribner – $39.99 – 436 pages)
“Taken as a quartet, these stories excel in the grand King style, mixing in myth, magic, horror, fantasy, and so much more. King still reigns supreme in the book world.”

All the Best Lies
by Joanna Schaffhausen
(Minotaur – $37.99 – 322 pages)
“It offers a bit of everything, the perfect recipe for a mystery thriller that will take you from first page to last with blinding speed.”

Dear Sweet Pea
by Julie Murphy
(Baltzer + Bray – $21.00 – 275 pages)
“The book is so infectious and mesmerizing, that while geared to younger readers, I would recommend it heartily to anyone over twelve. Julie Murphy has done an exceptional job of getting into the mindset of youth, along with their hopes and fears and aspirations.”

Beauchamp Hall
by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press – $38.99 – 276 pages)
“…we find interesting people and situations, making the book another winner from this tireless author.”

Lone Jack Trail
by Owen Laukkanen
(Mulholland/Little Brown – $35.00 – 324 pages)
“It is tough having anything negative to say about a book where one of the main heroes is a dog named Lucy. There is little doubt Lucy propels the story along, making for a most enjoyable read.”

The Last Hunt
by Deon Meyer
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $40.50 – 384 pages)
“Those who have enjoyed the Benny Griessel series, will be even more ecstatic with book seven. It has the usual great characters and intriguing plot that are trade-marks of past books in the series.”

Many Rivers to Cross
by Peter Robinson
(McClelland & Stewart – $29.95 – 378 pages)
“One thing that can be said about Peter Robinson, is that he makes police procedurals engrossing reading. He has a very effective manner of taking a story, then elevating it to a level where you cannot stop reading.”

*** Non-Fiction Section ***

Half the Sugar, All the Love
by Jennifer Tyler Lee & Anisha Patel
(Workman – $32.95 – 216 pages)
“The authors discuss long term health risks, and how the substitutes tell the center of the brain that sugar is coming.”

Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender – A Life In Pictures
Foreword by Rami Malek
(Carlton – $50.00 – 148 pages)
“This is the perfect tribute to Mercury. There are dozens of photos of him, many of which have never been seen before.”

Carrie Fisher: A LIfe on the Edge
by Sheila Weller
(Sarah Crichton Books – $38.00 – 404 pages)
“A LIFE ON THE EDGE is an emotional book, where the life of Fisher is told in detail. It makes us miss her all over again.”

Beautiful Ontario
by J.A. Kraulis
(Firefly – $29.95 – 226 pages)
“For those living in Ontario, unaware of such gems, this book will serve as a wake-up call to explore parts of the province.”

I Overcame my Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder
by Sarah Kurchak
(Douglas & McIntyre – $24.95 – 228 pages)
“… a most enlightening read, where Sarah relates the fact she has lived with autism, dealing with the slings and arrows that have come with it.”

Disney’s Land
by Richard Snow
(Scribner – $39.99 – 408 pages)
“Snow’s book has all the charm and appeal of Disney Land, which is the ultimate tribute to a true genius.”

Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep
by Erin Carlson
(Hachette – $30.99 – 308 pages)
“Any fan of the actress will enjoy this biography, as entertaining as the star herself.”

DC Comics Cover Art – 350 of the Greatest Covers in DC’s History
by Nick Jones
(DK Books – $45.00 – 240 pages)
“This is what makes the book a must read. The greatest covers from the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Steel Age, and Modern Age are (pardon the pun) cover-ed here.”

Hymns of the Republic
by S.C. Gwynne
(Simon & Schuster – $43.00 – 395 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…belongs on the shelf of everyone who considers them-selves a history buff or Civil War buff. Gwynne delves into an area of history, and provides a new look at a subject that still manages to be made fresh even after all these years.”

by John Tesh
(Nelson Books – $35.99 – 224 pages)
“John talks in detail about his battle with prostate cancer, that as the medical world thought, was his death sentence. He was given barely eighteen months to live, worried more about getting all his affairs in order.”

Vanity Fair’s Women on Women
by Radhika Jones with David Friend
(Penguin Press – $40.00 – 435 pages)
“As the title implies, all the writers and profiles are by and about women. Celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, Barbara Bush, Gloria Steinem, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Michelle Obama, and Queen Elizabeth II, make for a most entertaining book. The articles still seem timely even if some were written three decades ago.”

The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search for Meaning in the Great Depression
by Ben Montgomery
(Little Brown Spark – $36.50 – 280 pages)
Reviewed by Tori Levang
“Full of adventure and rife with diverse characters, it shows an unyielding American spirit on display. The author has done an excellent job of taking us back to Plennie’s time, and bringing into very sharp focus what the world was like, and what people would do to make themselves an even more profound part of it.”

The Case of the Vanishing Blonde (and Other True Crime Stories)
by Mark Bowden
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $38.95 – 232 pages)
“In Mark Bowden’s latest, THE CASE OF THE VANISHING BLONDE, he revisits six classic crimes that he has written for other publications including Vanity Fair. The first story in the book The Incident At Alpha Tau Omega, was first pub-lished in the Philadelphia Enquirer in 1983.”

Instant Loss – Eat Real, Lose Weight
by Brittany Williams
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $34.99 – 322 pages)
“You won’t be disappointed by the variety of advice and recipes. If you are looking for ways to eat healthier and be happier, INSTANT LOSS will work for you.”

And In the End (The Last Days of the Beatles)
by Ken McNab
(Thomas Dunne – $38.50 – 310 pages)
“Fans of the band will appreciate the manner in which McNab dissects that final year. Although 1969 saw the bells toll for the band, the Beatles would stay forever in our hearts.”

A Woman Makes A Plan
by Maye Musk
(Penguin – $28.00 – 212 pages)
“…an exceptional reference and self-help book, where she shares her recipe for good living, plus being able to overcome odds no matter at what stage of life you are in.”

Van Horne’s Road (The Building of the Canadian Pacific Railway)
by Omer Lavallee
(Anansi – $22.95 – 377 pages)
“The author went that extra mile in presenting a well-rounded look at the beginning and completion of the railway. For those who enjoy books about vital moments in history, this book will hold a special place in your library.”

Still: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Motherhood
by Emma Hansen
(Greystone – $24.95 – 303 pages)
“The book is filled with such love that you will feel an emotional tug at your heart throughout. You will never forget Emma’s story, and will remember Reid forever.”

My Victorians Lost in the Nineteenth Century
by Robert Clark
(University of Iowa Press – $26.99 – 182 pages)
“In many parts of the book the tone is deep and philosophical, in others quite down to earth. The book offers closure to Clark’s obsessions, bringing his own world into more crystal clear perspective.”

D-Day from the Invasion to the Liberation of Paris – June 6, 1944
by Richard Holmes
(Andre Deutsch – $24.95 – 256 pages)
“It has created a work where you might consider your own spiritual enlightenment. Hopefully you will achieve the same results as the author.”

Terrain Ideas and Inspiration for Decorating the Home and Garden
by Greg Lehmkuhl
(Artisan – $53.00 – 370 pages)
“… a most colorful book that will give readers a multitude of ideas for decorating their homes inside and out. Terrain is a group of stores offering inspiration to really make their homes and gardens stand out from the crowd.”

Knockout: A Memoir
by Mia Kang
(Abrams Press – $33.00)
” a book that will serve as both inspiration and warning to younger girls. It was a book that might not have been written if Mia Kang’s life has played out differently. She would not have been alive to do so. She is like the cat with nine lives, who overcame incredible odds to tell this tale.”

Shelf Life Issue #229

An interesting thing happened between our 22nd Anniversary issue and the May 2020 issue of Shelf Life. Or rather did not happen. The April 2020 issue was the last issue previously. It was not by choice. Of course you all are aware of the health pandemic and Covid-19. I was not able to publish any issues after that time because so many businesses had closed. Places like book stores and libraries where most copies of Shelf Life are distributed to, closed and even print shops where the issues are printed were shuttered.

Today, there are some limitations such as certain libraries will not allow publications from outside, meaning Shelf Life for the interim will be finding new areas of distribution. That is one of the reasons why this issue has a number (229) instead of the usual month, as one does not know if distribution may change again in the next while.

 To say the world has changed would seem a gross understatement. Whether it will ever return to a semblance of its former self, is the question of the moment. We can only hope when a vaccine is available that life will have a degree of normalcy again. I hope that you are spending quality time with your loved ones, and doing activities together. Or if alone, that you are reading and keeping up with the world around you.

Editor Paul Sutter with author and Social co-host Cynthia Loyst.

In the six or so months that we were not able to publish, the books have continued arriving at our desks and I recently counted over 300 reviews that have not been used. In this issue, I am proud to feature more than 50 titles. Reviews are a bit shorter this time around, only to attempt to fit as many books in as possible. No bookmarks are given, because all books are worthy of your consideration and time. I have also included a photo taken late January here in London of Cynthia Loyst author and co-host of the popular CTV television show THE SOCIAL. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the library when she was here with fellow Social co-host Jess Allen. Cynthia was here to promote her book, FIND YOUR PLEASURE, which is reviewed in this issue.

 I should also note that I finally got around to giving Shelf Life its online presence with more than 20 on-line book review videos found on the Shelf Life Facebook page, and the You Tube Shelf Life Book Reviews channel. I hope you will check them out. I welcome your comments pro and con. So on to the reviews. It is great being back. I hope all of you reading this, take care, keep well, and above all, stay safe.

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***

Noir Fatale
Edited by Larry Cooper & Kacey Ezell
(Baen – 34.00 – 312 pages)
“The stories all focus on femme fatales in charge, women who play by their own rules, as dangerous as male counterparts.”

The Numbers Game
by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press – $38.99 – 275 pages)
“The complications from the affair and the aftermath, is what makes the book work so well..”

The Girls With No Names
by Serena Burdick
(Park Row Books – $21.99 – 333 pages)
“The book is rich in the storytelling of Burdick, as she offers a most compelling story of life turned upside down, with seemingly little hope in sight.”

The Suspect
by Fiona Barton
(Penguin Books of Canada – $24.95 – 404 pages)
“There are tense moments leading to the big reveal and the reasons for the murders. It makes THE SUSPECT a book for those who enjoy complex stories, with lots of layers, and a tremendous payoff with the finale.”

His & Hers
by Alice Feeney
(Flatiron – $37.99 – 310 pages)
“You will be impressed by the manner in which Feeney weaves the story, with great skill, and by book’s end will find more surprises than gifts under a Christmas tree.”

Forgotten Bones
by Vivian Barz
(Thomas & Mercer – $23.95 – 300 pages)
“What makes the book all the more interesting is how it combines mystery, police procedurals, and a hint of the occult thrown in for good measure.”

The Furies
by Kate Lowe
(St. Martin’s Press – $36.50 – 368 pages)
“This is a coming of age story, with an emphasis on trust and friendship. It shows how fragile life can become. Katie Lowe has created a most compelling debut novel.”

House on Fire
by Bonnie Kistler
(Atria – $32.99 – 404 pages)
“Bonnie Kistler’s debut novel HOUSE ON FIRE, seems like one of those movies of the week prevalent in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but manages to rise above them with some well-crafted characterizations and situations.”

The Shape of Night
by Tess Gerritsen
(Ballantine – $37.00 – 268 pages)
“…a radical departure for Tess Gerritsen. Known for her intense mysteries, this book has spooky elements, putting it into the category of ghostly gothic tale.”

God Shot
by Chelsea Bieker
(Catapult – $38.95 – 322 pages
“The book has so much going for it, especially those who have blind belief, without fact. GOD SHOT is a book people will discuss years from now for its content and message.”

The City We Became
by N. K. Jemisin
(Orbit – $35.00 – 438 pages)
“The book is pure fantasy, plus science-fiction, with an alien menace unlike what may have been found in previous books.”

Pretty as a Picture
by Elizabeth Little
(Viking – $36.00 – 338 pages)
“… a book that works with a slow, methodical unveiling of story and character.”

The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern
(Doubleday Canada – $36.95 – 500 pages
“In many ways it is a fairy tale for adults, written structurally with fable-like elements. It will put you in awe of the writer’s creativity.”

Big Lies In a Small Town
by Diane Chamberlain
(St. Martin’s Press – $24.99 – 392 pages)
“While some fiction books revolving around art, might not seem the right formula for riveting reading, Diane Chamberlain dispels that notion with an effective story.”

Big Summer
by Jennifer Weiner
(Atria – $24.99 – 358 pages)
“BIG SUMMER is another big winner for Weiner, who reigns supreme in the world of chick-lit.”

In Another Time
by Jillian Cantor
(Harper Perennial – $33.50 – 326 pages)
“Full of depth and feeling, history is brought alive through the humanity, intimacy, and emotion of the novel’s narrative, and the author’s capacity for realistic portrayals of the emotional lives of the characters.”

Killer Instinct
by James Patterson & Howard Roughan
(Little Brown – $36.50 – 400 pages)
“Trust your instinct and add KILLER INSTINCT to your list of must read James Patterson books.”

The Doll Factory
by Elizabeth MacNeal
(Simon & Schuster – $24.99 – 326 pages)
“The last fifty or so pages, take the book to a new level, the tension as thick as a London fog. This causes every page to resonate with atmospheric charm and great tension.”

Neon Prey
by John Sandford
(Putnam – $39.00 – 390 pages)
“While not the strongest book of the series, Sandford still provides an entertaining read thanks to Davenport and the criminal company he pursues.”

Voodoo Shanghai
by Kristi Charish
(Vintage Canada – $24.00 – 418 pages)
“For those who enjoy their mystery with a strong hint of the supernatural thrown in for good measure, you cannot go wrong with VOODOO SHANGHAI.”

by Oliver Dufault
(Arachnide – $24.95 – 400 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
While it may not be remembered as a classic tale of the American West, nor is it a page turner that will keep you reading until the stroke of midnight, BENEDICTION is a worthwhile tale to be told.

The Boy from the Woods
by Harlan Coben
(Grand Central – $37.00 – 372 pages)
“The creator of many classic works of fiction, (Coben) returns with what may be his most complex, in THE BOY FROM THE WOODS. It is a book you will remember, and recommend to others.”

The Dark Bones
by Loreth Ann White
(Montlake Romance – $18.95 -436 pages)
“Book two of the DARK LURE series is most satisfying. Longer than many romantic mysteries, the book has no filler, with something happening on almost every page.”

Last Ones Left Alive
by Sarah David-Goff
(Flatiron – $36.50 – 288 pages)
“…a most competent dark tale of survival, quite com-parable to King and his best works.”

by Jessica Westhead
(Harper Perennial – $22.99 – 232 pages)
“…a book that gets better by the page. The 232 pages do not do justice to the fact we want so much more, never wishing the book to end.”

Keep You Close
by Karen Cleveland
(Doubleday Canada – $24.95 – 339 pages
“If there was ever a record for swerves and plot twists in a book, then KEEP YOU CLOSE could boast that record. Once you open the book, be prepared to be totally mesmerized by Cleveland’s style.'”

A Curve in the Road
by Julianne Maclean
(Lake Union – $21.95 – 260 pages)
“…starts off strong and finishes that way as well.”

A Minute to Midnight
by David Baldacci
(Grand Central – $37.00 – 420 pages)
“Baldacci keeps the suspense coming full-tilt, with one shock following another, a full-out assault on the senses by book’s end.”

A Book of Bones
by John Connolly
(Emily Bestler/Atria – $38.99 – 678 pages)
“Parker is a character you never get tired of, a skilled private investigator who is an avenging angel against a world of evil and murder.”

The Cornwalls Are Gone
by James Patterson & Brendan Dubois
(Little Brown – $36.50 – 352 pages)
“…quality Patterson. This is the second book Patterson and Brendan Dubois have co-authored. It is exceptional, like the first.   Captain Amy Cornwall is an army intelligence.”

Hammer To Fall
by John Lawton
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $38.95 – 400 pages)
“…for those who prefer books to play out slowly and methodically instead of rapid fire, HAMMER TO FALL will fill that bill.”

*** Non-Fiction Section ***

That’s Why I’m A Doctor
by Mark Bulgutch
(Douglas & McIntyre – $24.95 – 242 pages)
“The stories are filled with great heart, soul, and compassion, but not every single one comes with a happy ending.”

The Napoleonic Wars
by Richard Holmes
(Andre Deutsch – $49.95 – 164 pages)
“Any historian with an interest in Napoleon will be rewarded with a most thorough look at a most interesting man and legend.”

Butterflies – Their Natural History and Diversity
by Ronald Orenstein – Photography by Thomas Marent
(Firefly – $24.95 – 224 pages)
“BUTTERFLIES, will attract you like a magnet, keeping you turning pages to view beauty in motion. This book is more than simply photos. Their history is equally as fascinating, making the book a true collector’s item.”

From the Ashes
by Jesse Thistle
(Simon & Schuster – $24.99 – 360 pages)
“The story of his life is difficult to read at times, but knowing that he pulled himself from the ashes of despair to become a role model, gives one a most satisfied feeling.”

Vegan Bible
by Marie Laforet
(Grub Street – $29.95 – 326 pages)
“There are dozens of books with such recipes, each one adding something new to the world of cooking and food preparation.”

Fortitude – American Resilience in The Era of Outrage
by Dan Crenshaw
(Twelve – $35.00 – 250 pages)
“Crenshaw’s book is one that will inspire and impress. It shows respect for every-one’s life regardless of ideals, attitudes, or political beliefs.”

Smithsonian Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life (The Definitive Visual Guide to Prehistoric Animals)
(DK Books – $65.00 – 444 pages)
“Every page is a fount of knowledge, the ideal reference and information book for all ages. It will be viewed  countless times because it is such an irresistible edition.”

Bigger Bolder Baking
by Gemma Stafford
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $43.00 – 322 pages)
“…her faithful viewers can learn how to prepare some of her signature dishes, with professional results.”

Dear Girls
by Ali Wong
(Random House – $35.00 – 220 pages)
“Her candor is the strong point of the book, with nothing sacred. DEAR GIRLS is a welcome book not only for her daughters, but anyone wanting to read a book filled with great advice straight from the heart.”

Louisa on the Front Lines: Louise May Alcott In the Civil War
by Samantha Sieple
(Seal Press – $35.50 – 243 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“For those legions of fans of LITTLE WOMEN, this book will serve as a supplement to the famous work, providing a context and substantial background for the story Alcott would one day have published.”

Black Sabbath & Ozzy Osbourne: The Stories Behind the Classic Songs
by Carol Clerk & Paul Elliott
(Carlton- $50.00 – 160 pages)
“This book looks at not only the life and career of the band and its members, but also the personal hurdles they faced.”

Baman 100 Greatest Moments
by Robert Greenberger
(Chartwell Books – $32.99 – 310 pages)
“The reproduction of classic covers and comic panels make this a most appealing collectible. So head to your bat cave and savor every page.”

My Mother, A Serial Killer
by Hazel Baron & Janet Fife-Yeomans
(Harper Collins – $22.99 – 262 pages)
“Lovers of true crime will find the story fascinating. It shows how one girl’s concern helped stopped a murder spree and caused justice to prevail.”

Find Your Pleasure: The Art of Living A More Joyful Life
by Cynthia Loyst
(Simon & Schuster – $32.99 – 270 pages)
“… provides a step by step guide to creating a more enjoyable life, feeling self-satisfaction from personal accomplishments.”

by Henning Beck
(Greystone – $34.95 – 336 pages)
“…the reason for the book is not to make the brain work better in terms of thought processes. It is to show the imperfections of the brain, and how such imperfections may work in your favor.”

Our Wild Calling: How Connecting With Animals Can Transform Lives – And Save Theirs
by Richard Louv
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $37.95 – 310 pages)
“…the author studies our kinship with ani-mals, and how our bond with them, will create a better planet for all.”

No More Nice Girls: Gender, Power, and Why It’s Time to Stop Playing By the Rules
by Laura McKeon
(Anansi – $22.95 – 377 pages)
“The book looks at the role of women, and how the fight for acceptance and equality has been akin to climbing a mountain, using dental floss instead of rope.”

Disgraceland: Musicians Getting Away With Murder and Behaving Very Badly
by Jake Brennan
(Grand Central – $36.50 – 288 pages)
“If you enjoy reading stories about the famous and musically dysfunctional, the book creates a most fascinating analysis of crimes and misdemeanors.”

The Vibrant Life (Eat Well, Be Well)
by Amanda Hass
(Chronicle – $42.95 – 242 pages)
“… more than a recipe book. While that is the main idea of the book, the author has incorporated much else to totally pamper your body and soul.”

My Year of Living Spiritually
by Anne Bokma
(Douglas & McIntyre – $24.95 – 256 pages)
“It has created a work where you might consider your own spiritual enlightenment. Hopefully you will achieve the same results as the author.”

The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy (Updated and Expanded Edition)
by Elizabeth Kendall & Molly Kendall
(Abrams Press – $32.00 – 210 pages)
“The book is honest and open, as viewed from the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in.”

High School
by Tegan Quin & Sara Quin
(Simon & Schuster – $32.00 – 369 pages)
“The book embraces those high school days in an honest, open, and most enjoyable manner.”

WWE Greatest Rivalries
by Jake Black
(DK Books – $31.99 – 200 pages)
“…the book focuses on some of the greatest rivalries ever seen in the squared circles. Fans held their breath as their favorites did battle with a nefarious rival.”

Open Book
by Jessica Simpson with Kevin Carr O’Leary
(Dey Street – $35.99 – 408 pages)
“This is an honest appraisal of her life, where she is not afraid to hold anything back.”

UPDATED: Shelf Life on Video

2020-05-20 (2)

With the COVID-19 pandemic curtailing the publication of the print version of SHELF LIFE, Paul Sutter, the editor and publisher of the magazine has recorded several videos with his reviews.

Shelf Life Magazine – April 2020

April2020coverApril represents many things. One of them is that Winter is exerting its last grips on the world, now that Spring is upon us. The other event that happens in April is another anniversary for SHELF LIFE. It was in April 1998 that the first issue of this publication was created. As I mentioned before, I had not idea whether this was going to be short term, and I would eventually decide it was time to pack it in.

Surprisingly, just the opposite occurred, the fact that the longer I have published this, the more energized I feel about showcasing the best in books. Many readers have remained faithful to Shelf Life, reading every single issue and countless readers have also come on board, telling me how much they look forward to the issues. That really is gratifying, and the main reason I continue to create every single issue. The philosophy behind Shelf Life from the beginning was to get people to read books, and when I hear from readers who had not read a book in years, but happened to take home an issue of Shelf Life, noticing a book of interest, helped reenergize their love of books, makes this so worthwhile.

I thank the readers for staying true, but I also thank the publishers who have remained with us, sending amazing books time after time. I could not have done this without them. I also owe so much to the great stable of reviewers who have been part of Shelf Life over the years. They also have been the lifeblood of this venture as well. I could not have done this alone.

We hope you will continue to read each issue to come, with the same passion, and let us hear your comments positive or negative. Thanks again to everyone!

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best April Fiction ***

The Institute
by Stephen King
(Scribner – 39.99 – 560 pages)
“…King proves he still has what it takes to write important, captivating stories.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Migration
by Helen Marshall
(Random House Canada – $24.95 – 293 pages)
“…it somehow reminds one of early Stephen King, thanks to unusual moments and images.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of April Fiction ***

The 18th Abduction
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
(Little Brown – $38.00 – 386 pages)
“…the book is as good as it gets in mystery fiction.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Vendetta in Death
by J.D. Robb
(St. Martin’s Press – $38.50 – 368 pages)
“…among the best of the series, proof positive Robb still knows how to create stories that are just as riveting and anticipated as book one back in 1995.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Victory Garden
by Rhys Bowen
(Lake Union – $21.99 – 355 pages)
“Rhys Bowen has created a most memorable tale. THE VICTORY GARDEN is a victorious book in every sense of the word.”
Rating: 3  1/2 bookmarks

The Last Train to London
by Meg Waite Clayton
(Harper – $27.99 – 452 pages)
“It is a book filled with great heart and soul, making THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON one of the first books to add to your reading list.”
Rating:  4 bookmarks

The Long Call
by Ann Cleeves
(Macmillan – $25.99 – 375 pages)
“There are multiple mysteries in the book that intersect, creating much interest.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Who Are You Calvin Bledsoe?
by Brock Clarke
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 295 pages)
“At times the book seems to veer towards total slapstick. Clarke though keeps it on track…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

City of Girls
by Elizabeth Gilbert
(Riverhead Books – $37.00 – 470 pages)
“Gilbert takes us deeply into the heart and soul of Vivian, along with those influenced by her wisdom.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Empire of Lies
by Raymond Khoury
(Forge – $37.99 – 448 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…a thrill ride of a novel you will not be able to put down once you start.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Call Me Evie
by J.P. Pomare
(Putnam – $35.00 – 358 pages)
“It is a tale packed with psychological tension, the reader unsure just what is happening, along with motivation for some of the character’s actions.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Emma Donoghue
(Little Brown – $35.00 – 340 pages)
“AKIN manages to show how diverse personalities can co-exist and come to a mutual understanding in spite of so many differences.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Last House Guest
by Megan Miranda
(Simon & Schuster – $22.00 – 343 pages
“It makes for a stylishly effective mystery, keeping readers guessing until the truly blockbuster finale.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Blue Moon
by Lee Child
(Delacorte Press – $38.99 -356 pages)
“It is pretty well the proverbial money in the bank when you hear word of another Jack Reacher book.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Vanishing Season
by Dot Hutchison
(Thomas & Mercer – $23.95 – 312 pages)
“Although THE VANISHING SEASON vanishes into the literary sunset, you can bet Dot Hutchison will return with another equally engrossing series of books. ”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Other Mrs. Miller
by Allison Dickson
(Putnam – $35.00 – 343 pages)
“The book grows on you the deeper you get into the book, finding this to be a classic in storytelling.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

by Christy Ann Conlin
(Astoria – $19.95 – 307 pages)
“(Conlin) returns with a mesmerizing collection of short stories that show an even more powerful side to her literary brilliance.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Fanny and the Mystery in the Grieving Forest
by Rune Christiansen – Translated by Kari Dickson
(Book*Hug Press – $25.00 – 190 pages)
“…a story that is told most eloquently and succinctly by one of Norway’s most noted writers.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best April Non-Fiction ***

A Marvelous Life – The Amazing Story of Stan Lee
by Danny Fingeroth
(St. Martin’s Press – $39.99 – 390 pages)
“…truly gets to the heart of the life of Stan Lee.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Missing Millionaire
by Kate Daubs
(McClelland & Stewart – $34.95 – 354 pages)
“It makes for one powerful read, as Daub leaves no stone unturned in her quest for the truth.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of April Non-Fiction ****

A New Way to Age
by Suzanne Somers
(Gallery – $37.00 – 430 pages)
“The book is most informative and if you were seeking ways to prolong life, defy aging and stay young at heart, Somers’ latest will be of great value to you.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
by Austin Kleon
(Workman – $19.995 -216 pages)
“Kleon becomes the cheerleader for change in a most effective manner.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Strangers in the House (A Story of Bigotry and Belonging)
by Candace Savage
(Greystone  – $32.95 – 260 pages)
“Candace Savage is no stranger to quality writing, as this book proves that and much more.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey Into the Alaskan Wilds
by Caroline Van Hemert
(Little Brown Spark – $35.00 – 308 pages)
Reviewed by Tori Levang
“…a daring and honest memoir/adventure story about her life-changing six month journey through the North American wilderness…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Human Brain Book
by Rita Carter, Susan Albridge, Martyn Page and Steven Parker
(DK Books – $45.00 – 264 pages
“The book is written on a level that any person can understand. The authors have done an excellent job of covering all the bases..'”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Super Attractor
by Gabrielle Bernstein
(Hay House – $34.99 – 215 pages)
“Chapter by chapter, she has created a solid plan giving people simple steps for forging ahead in life.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Masters of the Battlefield
by Julian Thompson
(Andre Deutsch – $49.95 – 196 pages)
“Those who enjoy military history will find this an excellent reference source…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage
by Susan Marie Conrad
(Epicenter Press – $23.95 – 272 pages)
“INSIDE is more than a journey, it is a revelation, one  woman’s story conquering 1,100 miles and being all the more in tune with life because of it.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Aussie Fans (Uniquely Placed in Global Popular Culture)
by Cecilia Lam & Jackie Raphael
(University of Iowa Press – $69.95 – 245 pages)
“…gives a chance to learn much about the land down under in terms of popular culture.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Vegan Everyday
by Douglas McNish
(Robert Rose – $27.95 – 576 pages)
“…with 500 recipes, even the fussiest of eaters should be able to find at least one recipe of interest.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Are We Done Fighting (Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division)
by Matthew Legge
(New Society Publishers – $24.99 – 330 pages)
“The book is written in a most down-to-earth manner for educators, families, and study groups to debate and respect.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Joy Bauer’s Super Food! (150 Recipes for Eternal Youth)
by Joy Bauer
(Abrams – $37.99 – 292 pages)
“You will feel super good about yourself for taking a step in a very healthy direction with this book.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Living Lightly (Bring Happiness and Calm to Your Everyday)
by Dale Curd & Kimberly Alexander
(Harper Collins – $24.99 – 422 pages)
“There is something for every person out there, like a smorgasbord of information for peace of mind and happiness.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** For Younger Readers ***

Odd Gods
by David Slavin and Daniel Weitzman – Illustrated by Adam J.B. Lane
(Harper-$17.50 – 220 pages)
“…a funfest for Gods and other regular people.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shelf Life Magazine – March 2020

March 2020 coverAs I begin this issue, although you may read it in March, today is February 2, which is also known as Groundhog Day. While I doubt that the furry rodent can predict the weather, I am more impressed by the movie of the same name, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. The movie is about a man stuck in the same day because he refuses to change. He does the same thing day in and day out. Now you may wonder what that has to do with books. In a roundabout way it does. Some people love the same sort of books every time out. There is nothing wrong with that at all. You have your love of a particular author or genre. But I subtly suggest that something you venture outside your literary comfort zone, and read a book by a much talked-about author, one you may not have considered before. It might open up a new world for you, which besides your much loved author, can offer a brave new world of literary enjoyment.

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best March Fiction ***

Mr. Nobody
by Catherine Steadman
(Ballantine – 36.00 – 352 pages)
“The book moves in so many directions, that if you happen to read this in a bathtub you may become seasick.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Nighgt Fire
by Michael Connelly
(Little Brown – $37.00 – 400 pages)
“Strap on your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because you are going to be in for a bumpy and exhilarating ride.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of March Fiction ***

The Lightest Object in the Universe
by Kimi Eisele
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 325 pages)
“It is indicative of how now matter how bleak things look, there is always room for goodness and love to save the day.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Bitterroots
by C.J. Box
(Minotaur – $37.99 – 321 pages)
“THE BITTERROOTS has the familiar C.J. Box intrigue and tension, giving us another character to appreciate. There is nothing bitter about the book. It is a sweetly satisfying read.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Those Who Knew
by Idra Novey
(Viking – $35.00 – 248 pages)
“Novey has a way with words, not just writing a novel but also presenting her literary vision to readers.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

No One’s Home
by D.M. Pulley
(Thomas & Mercer – $23.95 – 382 pages)
“…an invigorating read, with lots of spooky moments and earthly occurrences, holding your attention totally.”
Rating:  3 1/2 bookmarks

Elevator Pitch
by Linwood Barclay
(Doubleday Canada – $24.00 – 460 pages)
“…he has mastered the mystery genre, where a major mystery is presented, with half the fun figuring out what is happening and why.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

An Easy Death
by Charlaine Harris
(Simon & Schuster – $34.99 – 306 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner

“…you quickly sense there is something a little off in this action-packed adventure. As it turns out, there’s an element of alternate history tucked into the novel’s pages.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Inn
by James Patterson & Candice Fox
(Little Brown – $36.50 – 370 pages)
“The book is filled with a lot of violence, along with unexpected twists that make for a recommended read.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Darwin Affair
by Tim Mason
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 375 pages)
“…most different for a historical mystery, one that will impress and amaze.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Skin Game
by Stuart Woods & Parnell Hall
(Putnam – $37.00 – 311 pages

“Those who have complained Stone is getting too predictable cannot say the same for Teddy.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Paper Lovers
by Gerard Woodward
(Macmillan – $29.99 -310 pages)
Reviewed by: Tori Levang

“Dealing with tough issues in a sensitive and profound way, the novel is beautifully written and thought provoking.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Pretty Guilty Women
by Gina Lamanna
(Sourcebooks/Landmark – $36.99 – 328 pages)

“…offers pretty guilty reading pleasures, if you are seeking a book with an off-beat edge to it.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Old Bones
by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
(Grand Central – $36.50 – 384 pages)
“…these authors…prove that any books they write, no matter who is the main character, is first rate.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Silent Night
by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press- $38.99 – 270 pages)
“The book is packed with emotion, and romantic interests are kept at a minimum.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Upside of Falling
by Alex Light
(Harper Teen – $17.99 – 282 pages)
“…the ideal book for teens in a similar situation, sometimes insecure and unsure of how to keep their image intact.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Inch By Inch
by Morgan Llywelyn
(Tor – $36.50 – 272 pages)
“While the book may not have the intensity or the intrigue of the first book, DROP BY DROP, it still is decent enough to keep the same tableau of what is left and how can one survive?”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Knife
by Jo Nesbo
(Random House Canada – $34.00 – 453 pages)
“…one of the grittiest and most intense books of the series. It is also one of the darkest…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best March Non-Fiction ***

The Wake (The Deadly Legacy of A Newfoundland Tsunami)
by Linden MacIntyre
(Harper Collins – $32.99 – 370 pages)
“The terrible chapter in Canadian history is brought to light, making the book highly recommended for history buffs from any era in time.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Tesla: The Man, the Inventor and the Age of Electricity
by Dr. Richard Gunderman
(Andre Deutsch – $34.95 – 160 pages)
“The book is most thorough in assessing every part of his life, even down to his declining years when his ideas seemed most far-fetched.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of March Non-Fiction ****

In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond – In Search of Sasquatch
by John Zada
(Greystone – $32.95 – 320 pages)
“Zada states a case for the creature’s existence, and makes for most enlightening reading.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

You Are Awesome
by Neil Pasricha
(Simon and Schuster – $29.99 -270 pages)
“…you are going to discover how to cope on many fronts.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Horror Stories
by Liz Phair
(Random House  – $37.00 – 262 pages)
“Her attention to detail is what makes the book work so well. She makes the most seemingly miniscule moments, larger than life.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work
by Ian Nathan
(White Lion Publishing – $45.00 – 176 pages)
“The book is a must-have for Tarantino fans, with a complete analysis of every film that he ever made.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Ultimate Star Wars New Edition
by Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Patricia Barr, Daniel Wallace, Ryder Windham and Matt Jones
(DK Books – $52.00 – 352 pages
“The newest edition of ULTIMATE STAR WARS has everything going for it, managing to add even more intensity to the Star Wars universe.'”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Superfood Boost
by Erica Palmcrantz Aziz
(Skyhorse – $28.99 – 144 pages)
“You will have a super good time, discovering the best super foods to boost your body.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Unspeakable: The Things We Cannot Say
by Harriet Shawcross
(Canongate – $38.95 – 353 pages)
“It makes for a book that casts a new light on silence. The book speaks volumes in understanding this phenomenon.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Breaking the Ocean
by Annahid Dashtgard
(Anansi – $22.95 – 313 pages)
“Everyone needs to read this book to learn how to treat every human being with the same respect and dignity.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Stoned – Photographs and Treasures from Life With the Rolling Stones
by Jo Wood
(Casell Illustrated – $27.99 – 260 pages)
“There are more than five hundred photos in the book. There are shots of the band onstage and offstage.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Crying Book
by Heather Christle
(Catapult Books – $25.50  208 pages)
“The book will not bring a tear to your eye, rather will provide insight into something that every single person on the planet has experienced at one time or another.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget
by Olivia Biermann
(Robert Rose – $29.95 – 230 pages)
“…will impress readers with its ingenuity regarding recipes that are health and more than budget-friendly.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** Picture Books for Younger Readers ***

Builder Brothers Better Together
by Jonathan & Drew Scott – Illustrated by Kim Smith
(Harper – $21.99 – 32 pages)
“…the book also shows that brothers and friends in general can have differing opinions, and that can cause friction unintentionally.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Mulan: The Legend of the Woman Warrior
Translated by Faye-Lynn Wu – Illustrated by Joy Ang
(Harper – $21.99 – 32 pages)
“The book is about female empowerment, being the best you can be, showing a strong heroine who sacrifices for her family, and stays true to her heart and dreams.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks


Shelf Life Magazine – February 2020

February2020coverTime. It is a concept we have no control over. But we can control how we spend time, to make each second of our lives more productive. I often here people saying they have no time to read a book. Well, it is not a big stretch to make time, even if it is an hour every day set aside. You are the master of your own life and in that life, making time is a possibility. Spend less time on your cell phone or computer and delve into a brave new world, where books are an escape from the complexities of life. Even more reason to read a book this month is the fact this is a leap year, and you have an extra day, February 29, to do anything you want. Why not spend that day with a book, which is where Shelf Life enters the picture. In this issue, you will find more than thirty titles, for all reading tastes. Surely there is one to pique your interest. And if you do find a book, write us and let us know what you thought about it. Hopefully it will turn into time well spent

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best February Fiction ***

The Never Game
by Jeffery Deaver
(Putnam – 37.00 – 400 pages)
“Jeffery Deaver is a most consistent author…whatever he tackles means top drawer fiction.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Family Upstairs
by Lisa Jewell
(Atria – $36.00 – 340 pages)
“It slowly and subtly works its way into your psyche…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of February Fiction ***

The 19th Christmas
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
(Little Brown – $37.00 – 348 pages)
“(The Women’s Murder Club) has been through so much over the years, and the latest is a thriller to the end.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Hudson’s Kill
by Paddy Hirsch
(Forge – $34.99 – 315 pages)
“…a most enjoyable atmospheric thriller, making us want to see Justy Flanagan again in book three.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys
by Keith Ross Leckie
(Douglas & McIntyre – $22.95 – 368 pages)
“…does an excellent job of giving a fictionalized account of their life and deaths.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

A People’s History of Heaven
by Mathangi Subramanian
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 290 pages)
“…a brilliant and moving debut novel, featuring a group of young girls who band together to make a difference.”
Rating:  4 1/2 bookmarks

The Secret of Cold Hill
by Peter James
(Macmillan – $29.99 – 330 pages)
“…a classic ghost story, showing Peter James’ range of writing talents.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Trouble on the Books
by Essie Lang
(Crooked Lane Publishing – $22.99 – 329 pages)
Reviewed by: Tori Levang

“…offers readers an exciting cozy mystery story that provides the perfect read any time of year.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Big Sky
by Kate Atkinson
(Doubleday Canada – $32.95 – 358 pages)
“The book was worth the near decade wait for Jackson Brodie to surface again.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

A Witch In Time
by Wm. Mark Simmons
(Baen – $34.00 – 301 pages)
“…the reader gets to experience even more of (Simmons’) brilliance with this engaging offbeat series.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Chestnut Man
by Soren Sveistrup
(Harper – $23.99 – 516 pages

“The suspense level keeps rising a few notches each chapter, offering a terrific read… ”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

In the House In the Dark of the Woods
by Laird Hunt
(Little Brown – $29.00 – 214 pages)
“It is the uncertainty of where the book is heading, along with motivations of some of the characters that gives the book its most intriguing appeal.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Savage Country
by Robert Olmstead
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $39.95 – 293 pages)

Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…the reader…can’t help but be swept up in the magnificent almost lyrical prose…
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Watcher in the Woods
by Kelley Armstrong
(Doubleday Canada – $24.00 – 400 pages)
“Armstrong still provides a terrific work of mystery to fans to Rockton and people who generally like a great pieces of fiction.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Only Woman In the Room
by Marie Benedict
(Sourcebooks Landmark – $25.00 – 260 pages)
“The book is a triumph of the human spirit, and how one person, although beaten down, did not give up.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Big Kahuna
by Janet and Peter Evanovich
(Putnam – $37.00 – 303 pages)
“…there doesn’t seem that something extra in the sometimes absurd and serious nature of the plot.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by David Albertyn
(Spiderline – $19.95 – 322 pages)
“…definitely a top of the reading pile type of book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Poppy Wife
by Caroline Scott
(William Morrow – $21.00 – 425 pages)
“The prose is eloquent and filled with great humanity.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best February Non-Fiction ***

by Elton John
(Henry Holt – $38.50 – 376 pages)
“Now finally, we get to read the story of Elton from the man himself.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

If You Tell
by Greg Olsen
(Thomas & Mercer – $23.95 – 420 pages)
“…one of the most gripping, graphic, and sometimes unbearable books read in some time.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of February Non-Fiction ****

Best Places to Bird in Ontario
by Kenneth & Michael Burrell
(Greystone – $24.95 – 278 pages)
“For a most thorough book, BEST PLACES TO BIRD IN ONTARIO should take flight to your book shelf.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Perfect Predator (A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug)
by Steffanie Strathdee & Thomas Patterson
(Hatchett – $36.50 – 337 pages)
“…the perfect feel good story of survival, when it appeared all hope was gone.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Marvel Book – Expand Your Knowledge of a Vast Comics Universe
by Stephen Wiacek
(DK Books  – $32.00 – 256 pages)
“…studies the characters that contributed to this fabulous world of fantasy.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Snow: A Scientific and Cultural Exploration
by Giles Whittell
(Atria – $34.00 – 246 pages)
“Combining the whimsical with the serious, Whittell proves there is no business like snow business.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Next Level Thinking
by Joel Osteen
(Faith Words – $31.50 – 208 pages
“…he offers, as the cover notes, ’10 powerful thoughts for a successful abundant life.'”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

3 Ingredient Baking
by Charmaine Christie
(Robert Rose – $29.95 – 224 pages)
“Three is definitely your lucky number when it comes to baking, so get to it and cook up a triple ingredient storm.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Complete Michael Jackson (The Man, the Moves, The Magic)
by Chris Roberts
(Carlton – $45.00 – 256 pages)
“…a most comprehensive book, detailing the extent of Jackson’s career.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

To Feel the Music
by Neil Young & Phil Baker
(BenBella Books – $32.50 – 260 pages)
“…the book is still sweet music for audiophiles, and a tribute to Neil Young and his musical vision.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years
by Julie Andrews with Emma Walton Hamilton
(Hachette – $38.00 – 325 pages)
“In this twenty-three year assessment of her life and movies, we discover even more to appreciate about this actress.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Still Here (The Madcap Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch)
by Alexandra Jacobs
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux – $36.50 – 330 pages)
“The book covers all facets of her life, and although noted for her binge-drinking, she still knew how to entertain an audience.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Waiting to Detail (Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, Alt-Country’s Brilliant Wreck)
by Thomas O’Keefe & Joe Oestreich
(Skyhorse – $29.99 – 252 pages)
“The book will appeal to fans of the band and Adams as well. It may be a rather unmemorable read for music lovers in general”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Whatever Gets You Through (Twelve Survivors on Life After Sexua Assault)
Edited by: Stacey May Fowles & Jen Sookfong Lee
(Greystone – $22.95 – 220 pages)
“This is a book that will resonate within your psyche for a long time to come…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Changing Tides (An Ecologist’s Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene)
by Alejandro Frid
(New Society Publishers – $19.99 – 190 pages)
“It is poetic at times, but of all thanks to (Alejandro Frid) we hold answers in our hands.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

How To Not Wear Black
by Anna Murpy
(DK Books – $32.00 – 260 pages)
“With lots of pictures and plenty of hints and challenges for you, by the time the book is finished, you will be more than red carpet ready.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks


Shelf Life Magazine – January 2020

Jan2020coverHappy New Year and welcome to a brand new decade. Where did the last decade go, would be the question posed by many! Shelf Life has been publishing in four decades, beginning in the Spring of 1998 and now part of the 2020’s. April will celebrate our 22nd anniversary, and time truly marches on. But our mission continues to keep bringing readers the best in books, inspiring you to seek these books out and add them to your own must-read lists.

With the colder temperatures out there, settle in and enjoy now only this issue but also the year to come!

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best January Fiction ***

We Were Killers Once
by Becky Masterman
(Penguin Canada – $24.95 – 320 pages)
“It is a true page turner that will be impossible to forget.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Curious Toys
by Elizabeth Hand
(Mulholland-Little Brown – $34.00 – 375 pages)
“The book has all the elements of a classic mystery, working so well on many levels.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Last
by Hannah Jameson
Atria – $36.00 – 342 pages
“Yes, the book is dark, and at times many seem to be facing a lost cause, but it becomes survival of the fittest, with people forging onward, possibly to something better.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of January Fiction ***

The Stranger Diaries
by Elly Griffiths
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $22.99 -336 pages)
“…the author gives us even more to cheer about with a standalone book that may be one and done.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Night Before
by Wendy Walker
(St. Martin’s Press – $34.00 – 320 pages)
“…your typical psychological thriller that will keep you on the proverbial edge of your seat until the last few pages.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

By the Pricking of Her Thumb
by Adam Roberts
(Gollancz – $34.99 – 262 pages)
“It makes for a most fascinating murder mystery that sometimes is over the top. It does meander into the bizarre zone but Roberts’ eloquent prose gets the book back on track more than once.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Bag of Tricks Affair
by Bill Pronzini
(Tor – $33.99 – 256 pages)
Reviewed by: Tori Levang
“It is an easy, entertaining read that is thoroughly absorbing and fast-paced.”
Rating:  3 1/2 bookmarks

The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett
(Harper  – $24.99 – 338 pages)
“The book is an epic saga that spans five decades.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Holy Ghost
by John Sandford
(Putnam – $39.00 – 373 pages)
“The usual Sandford style is there, with intrigue and some humour, right to the final pages.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Crooked Street
by Brian Freeman
(Thomas & Mercer – $22.95 – 354 pages)
“…will please all readers, taking them on an exhaustive journey for law, order, and justice.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Mrs. Everything
by Jennifer Weiner
(Atria – $24.99 – 466 pages)
“…may be one of Jennifer Weiner’s most creative and intense books.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Shadow Between Us
by Carol Mason
(Lake Union Publishing – $21.99 – 247 pages)
Reviewed by: Tori Levang

“…a novel about second chances, overcoming your past, and finding and maintaining hope through major life upheaval. ”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

In His Father’s Footsteps
by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press- $38.99 – 323 pages)
“…Steel manages to bring a more human approach to the story, showing what happens when relationships sour, and people are taken for granted.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

League of Dragons
by Naomi Novik
(Del Rey- $37.00 – 380 pages)

Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…manages to combine several genres together into one unforgettable story.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Break In Case of Emergency
by Dick Francis
(Harper Collins – $22.99 – 350 pages)
“…should be on the reading list of high schools. It is a book that resonates with a lot of teens today.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Twice in a Blue Moon
by Christian Lauren
(Gallery – $22.00 – 356 pages)
“…a warm and gentle story that is as much about love and trust, as never confiding anything no matter what.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Sophia Princess Among Beasts
by James Patterson with Emily Raymond
(Little Brown – $34.00 – 352 pages)
“Not his strongest effort and a bit confusing at times, it still will offer the talents of Patterson to a much different audience than he is used to.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best January Non-Fiction ***

The Forest City Killer
by Vanessa Brown
(ECW Press – $24.95 – 350 pages)
“It is obvious Vanessa Brown pored over countless articles, books, and talked to a variety of individuals, to make the book as authoritative as possible.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

TV Noir: Dark Drama on the Small Screen
by Allen Glover
(Abrams – $50.00 – 260 pages)
“…this journey into the golden age of television is certainly a must-read for classic TV lovers and those who enjoyed dark and delightful drama.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Janis: Her Life and Music
by Holly George-Warren
(Simon & Schuster – $38.99 – 380 pages)
“If we thought we already knew a lot about Janis, there were still many layers to be uncovered.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of January Non-Fiction ****

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
by Malcolm Gladwell
(Little Brown – $36.99 – 400 pages)
“He uses psychology and insight into proving his points.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Beatles in 100 Objects (Discover What Made The Fab Four Fab)
by Brian Southall
(Carlton – $39.95 – 298 pages)
“There is so much in this book that Beatles fans will be in their glory thanks to the images.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered
by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
(Forge  – $32.50 – 300 pages)
“While the title might sell some copies, the contents inside are even more reason to own the book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by Mari K. Swingle
(New Society – $29.99 – 532 pages)
“Many who deal with problems brought on with our obsession with gaming, cell phones, and social media will benefit from this book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Last Stone
by Mark Bowden
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $39.95 – 352 pages
“Stories of unsolved crimes are always difficult to read…When it involves children, it often makes it even harder to accept.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Smithsonian Women Our Story
Foreward by Rebecca Boggs Roberts
(DK Books – $45.00 – 320 pages)
“This is a book for young girls and women to read to show accomplishments and to never back down or feel inferior. This is truly a book for the ages.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Let’s Play Two (The Legend of Mr. Cub, The Life of Ernie Banks)
by Ron Rapoport
(Hachette – $33.99 – 464 pages)
“…a baseball book at its best, honouring the man and the sport, as he became a true legend.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Heart of a Boy (Celebrating the Strength and Spirit of Boyhood)
by Kate T. Parker
(Workman – $28.95 – 250 pages)
“Page after page we find inspiring comments.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shakespeare’s Library – Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature
by Stuart Kells
(Counterpoint – $38.95- 336 pages)
“Those who enjoy Shakespeare will discover newly uncovered facts about the fan…”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Rough Magic Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race
by Lara Prior-Palmer
(catapult – $37.50 -288 pages)
“In the pages of the book, she takes the reader on that journey in which she won bragging rights to something unique.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Hollywood’s Eve – Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A.
by Lili Anolik
(Scribner – $35.00 – 278 pages)
“The book becomes a who’s who of the 60’s and 70’s with so many famous people interacting with Babitz.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Kathleen Turner on Acting (Conversations about Film, Television and Theatre) 
by Kathleen Turner & Dustin Morrow
(Skyhorse – $34.99 – 390 pages)
“Anyone who is considering the acting life would be well-advised to read this book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Almost Human: The Story of Julius, the Chimpanzee Caught Between Two Worlds
by Alfred Fidjestol
(Greystone – $32.95 – 236 pages)
“For those looking for a feel-good animal story, you cannot go wrong with ALMOST HUMAN.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** For Younger Readers ***

Talking to the Moon
by Jan L. Coates
(Red Deer Press – $12.95 – 332 pages)
“The book echoes how many pre-teens and teens feel isolated no matter what sort of upbringing they had.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shelf Life Magazine – December 2019

December 2019 Shelf CoverBring on the holidays! I say it again and again; where does the time go and how did Christmas 2019 come so soon? It is here and hopefully it will be the most memorable for everyone one of you. With the holidays comes our annual Books As Holiday Gifts Buying Guide. This is our 14th Annual Issue and it is one of our most popular issues as people decide which books to buy for family and friends. There are books here for all ages, on a variety of subjects that will appeal to the young, old and the young at heart. We offer more than thirty titles for your reading and gift giving pleasures. As with all December issues, no bookmarks are given. Every book noted here is highly recommended.

On behalf of Shelf Life book reviewers, I would like to wish you all a most memorable holiday season. May it be one filled with great love, happiness, and most of all a time for wonderful memories, that bring gladness and joy to your heart not only at this time, but every day of the coming year.

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died
by Alyson Rudd
(HQ – $32.99 -384 pages)
“Alyson Rudd’s debut novel hits all the right spots, with many comparing this book to the Gwyneth Paltrow film SLIDING DOORS.”

Someone We Know
by Shari Lapena
(Doubleday Canada – $24.95 – 380 pages)
“…the book is big on deception and enough lies to confuse and amaze the reader.”

The Van Appel Girls Are Gone
by Felicity McLean
(Algonquin – $23.95 – 300 pages)
“…there are so many levels to the story, one that makes the book so compelling and irresistible.”

Deception Cove
by Owen Laukkanen
(Mulholland/Little Brown – $33.00 – 374 pages)
“…one powerful tale, and don’t be deceived into passing this book by. It deserves to be read.”

The Night Window
by Dean Koontz
(Bantam – $37.00 – 420 pages)
“Jane Hawk was one of the best female protagonists Koontz has ever created.”

Death Blow
by Isabella Maldonado
(Midnight Ink – $21.99 – 330 pages)
“DEATH BLOW is book three of the Veranda Cruz series, possibly the most intense tale of the trio.”

Dead At First Sight
by Peter James
(Macmillan – $44.95 – 436 pages)
“Peter James never skimps on detail in in his book. Nor on interesting plots.”

by Rachel Edwards
(Fourth Estate – $24.95 – 343 pages)
“…a blend of domestic suspense and thriller…”

Under Currents
by Nora Roberts
(St. Martin’s Press – $36.99 -436 pages)
“This is another powerful suspense/love story from one of the best writers of today.”

by Jon Clinch
(Atria – $36.00 – 288 pages)
“Jon Clinch does an exceptional job of reworking the traditional tale.”

Someone Knows
by Lisa Scottoline
(Putnam – $36.00 – 388 pages)
“…a book so good you will want to let everyone know that they should read it.”

Hard Ride
by Elmer Kelton
(Forge- $36.50 – 416 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“No matter what tale you embark on, odds are in your favour that you will come across a story that you will wish not to put down ”

Once Upon A River
by  Diane Setterfield
(Bond Street/Doubleday Canada – $34.00 – 420 pages)
“…a true gem of a work of fiction.”

Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane
(Scribner – $24.99 – 390 pages)
“…a book that you will enjoy and savor totally.”

The Stranger Inside
by Laura Benedict
(Mulholland/Little Brown – $35.00 – 352 pages)
“…definitely Laura Benedict’s best book.”

The Time for Murder is Meow
by T.C. Lotempio
(Midnight Ink – $21.99 – 303 pages)
“…will more than have you purring by the time you reach the end of the book.”

The Women in the Blue Cloak
by Deon Meyer – Translated by K.L. Seegers
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $29.95 – 160 pages)
“…short but inside the pages of the slim volume is a riveting tale, where you wish there were dozens more pages.”


*** Non-Fiction Section ***

The Nature of Life and Death Every Body Leaves A Trace
by Patricia Wiltshire
(Putnam – $36.00 -290 pages)
“It brings a most unique form of forensics into the public eye.”

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (The Wild Definitive Sage of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup)
by David Browne
(DaCapo – $39.00 – 464 pages)
“This is a super book for those who could get enough of the original supergroup.”

Inside Out
by Demi Moore
(Harper – $34.99 – 262 pages)
“By the time you finish this most riveting story, you will have a new appreciation and respect for the star.”

The Five: The Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Women
by Hallie Rubenhold
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $39.99 – 352 pages)
“Hallie Rubenhold finally gives them a voice and some long-overdue dignity.”

This One Looks Like a Boy – My Gender Journey to Life As A Man
by Lorimer Shehner
(Greystone  – $32.95 – 292 pages)
“Lorimer looks at life from different directions, and anyone going through similar gender issues will find solace in his words.”

Backroads of Ontario 5th Edition Expanded and Updated
by Ron Brown
(Firefly – $29.95 – 256 pages)
“BACKROADS OF ONTARIO takes us back to basics, savouring unique locations, and offering countless reasons to visit them.”

Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Desirina Boskovich
(Abrams Image – $37.95 – 280 pages)
“This book is a sci-fi/fantasy lover’s dream come true, with so many little known nuggets that will give readers even more to love about the genres.”

50 Years of Fluevog (Unique Soles for Unique Souls)
by John Fluevog
(Life Tree Media – $65.00 – 170 pages
“That shows dedication and great sole, and a truly amazing life.”

The Time Has Come (Why Men Must Join The Gender Equality Revolution)
by Michael Kaufman
(Anansi – $22.95 – 262 pages)
“This is an important book as well for fathers and sons to read and discuss what is expected of them in life. The time has come to read this book and learn the lessons noted inside.”

The First Americans: The Story of the Indigenous North Americans
by Jay Wertz
(Andrew Deutsch- $39.95 – 160 pages)
“It is a first-class reference guide and precise historical tribute to Native peoples.”

Smithsonian Fashion: The Definitive Visual Guide New Edition
(DK Books – $65.00 – 480 pages)
“…one readily sees the long and fascinating journey the fashion world has taken.”

Kitchen Party Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion 
by Mary Berg
(Appetite – $32.00 – 260 pages)
“This is a classic recipe book that takes the stress out of food and entertaining.”

by Laura Clery
(Gallery – $34.00 – 248 pages)
“IDIOT may seem an appropriate title for some, but survivor is now her mantra, as life will not always be a bottomless pit.”

Be With: Letters To A Caregiver
by Mike Barnes
(Biblioasis – $17.95 – 150 pages)
“…reading Mike Barnes’ poignant recounting in dealing with the disease involving his mother Mary will leave one misty-eyes at times.”

British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas
by Derek Hayes
(Douglas & McIntyre – $44.95 – 368 pages)
“It is like holding a part of the world in your fingertips. Turning every page revealing another part of the masterpiece.”

*** Books for Children ***

Summer North Coming
by Dorothy Bentley – Illustrated by Jessica Bartram
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $19.95- 32 pages)
“With some fun facts about sharks,  they will teach children about them and other creatures that dwell beneath the waters.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shelf Life Magazine – November 2019

While novdecshelfcoverwe may not offer the same enthusiasm as people opening Christmas gifts on December 25, every issue of Shelf Life strives to offer people the reason to take home a copy with them from wherever they find the issues. And the fact that readers are picking us up in higher numbers than ever, issues are often gone within a week or two of their arrival, says something about the public’s need to read and to discover books worthy of their time.

Each issue out, that is precisely the goal of Shelf Life, and while we could not possibly have space or time to feature every book of interest, one thing we guarantee is variety within our pages. We attempt to review timely titles, along with books that are not always gaining the attention they deserve. That has always been our goal and we will never waver from it.

As I have said before, please keep those emails coming about what you enjoy about the issues and areas we can improve. After 21 issues and 223 issues we are never too old for comments and criticism. Enjoy the issue!

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best November Fiction ***

The Chain
by Adrian McKinty
(Mulholland/Little Brown – $36.50 – 368 pages)
“There is little question how good a book THE CHAIN is.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Invited
by Jennifer McMahon
(Doubleday Canada – $34.00 – 353 pages)
“THE INVITED hearkens back to classic ghost stories of the past.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of  November Fiction ***

Last Summer
by Kerry Lonsdale
(Lake Union – $21.95 – 285 pages)
“LAST SUMMER might be considered a beach read, but don’t let the fact Fall has arrived deter you from picking the book up.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Infinite Blacktop
by Sara Gran
(Atria – $35.00 – 292 pages)
“The book swings like a pendulum from past to present, as the plot becomes much clearer.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Shallows
by Matt Goldman
(Forge – $36.50 – 320 pages)
“…the author evokes memories of classic fiction from the forties and fifties.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Liar Liar 
by James Patterson and Candace Fox
(Little Brown- $36.50 – 375 pages)
“…(leads) to a shocking finale that makes us anticipate the next book all the more.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

February’s Son
by Alan Parks
(Canongate – $32.95 – 355 pages)
“The book is the perfect sequel to the BLOODY JANUARY classic debut.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Last Girl Lied
by L.E. Flynn
(Imprint – $23.50 – 347 pages)
“The book is filled with puzzles and questions without answers, where the more you read, the more determined you are to continue reading to find out what is happening and why.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Woman in the Lake
by Nicola Cornick
(Graydon House – $23.95 – 308 pages)
Reviewed by Tori Levang
“Darkly dramatic, thrilling, and full of mystery, the reader quickly becomes enthralled…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Wild Card
by Stuart Woods
(Putnam – $37.00 – 311 pages)
“There is intrigue, minor suspense, but in the long-run, it is much of the same as we have come to expect from Woods.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Your Truth or Mine?
by Trisha Sakhlecha
(Macmillan- $33.99 -436 pages)
“…a most intriguing thriller that brings to the literary world the talents of newcomer author Trisha Sakhlecha. ”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Current
by Tim Johnston
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $38.95 – 408 pages)
“The book has everything going for it, especially a story quite riveting, with characters that leap right off the page into your lap.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Reckoning
by John Grisham
(Doubleday – $37.00 – 430 pages)
“…ranks right up there with Grisham’s best.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Her Father’s Secret
by Sara Blaedel
(Grand Central – $34.00 – 320 pages)
“There are many plot twists in effect here, making book two, most compelling.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Waiting Hours
by Shandi Mitchell
(Viking – $24.95 – 386 pages)
“It is sure to resonate among those who demand superior fiction.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Last Romantics
by Tara Conklin
(Harper Avenue – $22.99 – 352 pages)
“…shows how the human condition is challenged by tsunamis of a different kind in our lives that challenge us…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Dual Citizens
by Alix Ohlin
(Anansi – $22.95 – 275 pages)
“…a story of love and hope and committing oneself to those we love in our lives.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best November Non-Fiction ***

Haben the Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
by Haben Girma
(Twelve – $35.50 – 27 pages)
“…you might have a different perspective and believe anything is possible.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

DC Comics: A Year by Year Chronicle New Edition
by Alan Cowsill, Alex Irvine, Matthew K. Manning, Michael McAvennie, Melanie Scott & Daniel Wallace
(DK Books – $65.00 – 365 pages)
“No one could find fault anywhere with such an exceptional comics chronicle.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of November Non-Fiction ****

Unforgettable Canada – 125 Destinations Fourth Edition
by George Fischer & Noel Hudson
(Boston Mills Press – $29.95 – 352 pages)
“The book is as unforgettable as the title.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

NHL The Official Illustrated History
by Arthur Pincus With David Rossner, Len Hochberg, Chris Malcolm & Craig Ellenport
(Thomas Allen – $34.99 – 292 pages)
“It will serve as a reference guide for generations to come.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shotguns and Stagecoaches: The Brave Men Who Rode for Wells Fargo in the Wild West
by John Boessenecker
(Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press  – $38.99 – 348 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…showcases the history of the company through the lives and careers of some of it most famous and heroic employees.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Death of Hitler: The Final Word
by Jean-Christophe Brisard & Lana Parshina
(DaCapo – $38.00 – 330 pages)
“It makes the book read at times more like a classic work of fiction, adding even more intrigue to the story.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Three Woman
by Lisa Taddeo
(Avid Reader Press – $36.00 – 306 pages)
“…an inspiring tale of one man’s dreams, visions and courage, and anyone who reads this work will find their own lives more than changing for the better.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

True Roots
by Kristin Cavallari
(Rodale – $29.99 – 252 pages
“The diverse nature of the trio makes for fascinating reading.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Detective Comics 80 Years of Batman The Deluxe Edition
by Paul Levitz
(DC Comics – $39.99 – 420 pages)
“Fans of Batman will find this edition most thorough and entertaining.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Killer Across The Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators With the FBI’s Original Mindhunter
by John Douglas With Mark Olshaker
(Dey Street – $23.99 – 342 pages)
“…the perfect book for those who enjoy true crime. This one in particular goes a step beyond to probe deeper than most books”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Nature-Based Therapy A Practitioner’s Guide to Working Outdoors With Children, Youth, and Families
by Kevin Harper, Kathryn Rose, & David Segal
(New Society Publishers – $24.99 – 288 pages)
“The information is priceless and timeless, hopefully providing the perfect antidote for certain mental issues.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Sherlock Holmes Museum: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(Prion – $55.00- 1095 pages)
“With four classic novels and fifty-six short stories, you can savour this book over days, weeks, or months.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Shazam The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal
by Chip Kidd & Geoff Spear
(Abrams Comic Arts – $31.99 – no page count)
“Those who know the Captain Marvel of today owe it to themselves to discover precisely how the original came about.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings
by William H. Reid
(Skyhorse – $34.99 – 272 pages)
“Reid tells in detail what happened that fateful night when twelve people died and dozens were wounded.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Complete Eye Health & Nutrition Guide
by Laurie Capogna
(Robert Rose – $27.95 – 240 pages)
“…wants to give everyone a fighting change in terms of vision.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Luftwaffe Eagle (A WWII German Airman’s Story)
by Erich Sommer
(Grub Street – $35.00 – 222 pages)
“The book’s tone offers a different perspective on War and the rise of the Nazi regime.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Definitive Guide to Horror Movies
by James Marriott & Kim Newman
(Carlton – $39.95 – 368 pages)
“No matter what your tastes in horror are, you will find it here, form the psychological horrors to graphic slasher-style cinema.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** Books for Younger Readers ***

Save Your Friends
by Hyewon Kyung
(Greenwillow – $21.00 – 32 pages)
“With some fun facts about sharks,  they will teach children about them and other creatures that dwell beneath the waters.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Cold Little Voice
by Alison Hughes – Illustrated by Jan Dolby
(Clockwise Press – $19.95- 32 pages)
“There is a joy to read and will reinforce positivity in their lives, even in the times of the greatest refusal to believe in themselves.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Shelf Life Magazine – October 2019

septoct19coverEveryone has defining moments in their lives, ones that stand out from many others. I guess I had that moment late this past summer when I took my annual train trip to Toronto. It was not only to spend a leisurely day visiting old book stores and the likes. I also went with the purpose of watching a live to air taping of The Social, a popular daytime program. It is Canada’s equivalent of The View, but much more entertaining. Jess Allen, one of the ladies on the panel, arranged to get me a ticket. I had sent her issues of Shelf Life a couple of years ago, and always wanted to see a live show. I happened to get a seat in the front row and was less than thirty feet from the table where the ladies on the pane sit and debate issues of the day. People even told me they saw me on television a few times when the camera panned to the audience. After the show, the ladies come and shake hands and thank the audience for coming out. Jess came my way and shook my hand. I introduced myself and she said she was glad I could come. She also asked if she could give me a hug. First of all, no one has ever asked me that, and secondly I have never hugged anyone famous. It was a day I shall never forget and as noted a defining moment. Thank you Jess and ladies of The Social for such wonderful memories.

We hope this issue offers defining books you will embrace and read. There are more than thirty such titles, all recommended for your Fall book choices. Please let us know which books you liked the most, and what titles you hope to see reviewed in the future. It is always a pleasure drawing such books to your attention.

Paul Sutter

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*** Fiction Section ***
*** Best October Fiction ***

She Lies in Wait
by Gytha Lodge
(Random House – $36.00 – 358 pages)
“The story is methodical, giving readers an opportunity to finger the guilty.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Woman in the Dark
by Vanessa Savage
(Grand Central – $35.50 – 348 pages)
“The psychological darkness of the book, is what makes THE WOMAN IN THE DARK such a spectacular debut novel.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of  October Fiction ***

Lady in the Lake
by Laura Lippman
(William Morrow – $33.50 – 352 pages)
“(Lippman’s) latest, LADY IN THE LAKE, is destined for the same greatness as her past efforts.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Me For You
by Lolly Winston
(Gallery – $35.00 – 315 pages)
“…a warm and tender love story of coping with tragedy, overcoming life’s hurdles, and coming out stronger than ever.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Keep This To Yourself
by Tom Ryan
(Albert Whitman & Co. – $23.99 – 310 pages)
“It will not only appeal to the teen crowd, but written so well that an older audience who enjoy a good old-fashioned mystery, will find it appealing as well.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Never Tell
by Lisa Gardner
(Dutton- $36.00 – 404 pages)
“…another great plot where nothing is where it seems.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Long Road to Mercy
by David Baldacci
(Grand Central – $38.00 – 404 pages)
“The author plans out his characters most methodically, realizing what characters will work and why.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Tuscan Child
by Rhys Bowen
(Lake Union – $36.95 – 336 pages)
Reviewed by Tori Levang
“…a thoroughly compelling read for lovers of romance and mystery.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

I Know A Secret
by Tess Gerritsen
(Ballantine – $37.00 – 321 pages)
“This is book twelve of the series, and there is little question it may be the most complex.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Courting Mr. Lincoln
by Louis Bayard
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill  – $39.95 – 379 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…chronicles the courtship between the future president and his future bridge, from both the woman’s point-of-view, as well as that of Lincoln’s close friend.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Is There Still Sex In the City?
by Candace Bushnell
(Anansi – $24.95 – 272 pages)
“Those longing for life after Sex in the City might find the next best thing with this book. ”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Past Tense
by Lee Child
(Delacorte Press – $38.99 – 383 pages)
“PAST TENSE is another Jack Reacher classic, that will definitely keep Lee Child fans happy  until another book hits the store shelves.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Vanishing Box
by Elly Griffiths
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $36.00 – 358 pages)
“…Elly Griffiths (is) proving great writing is no illusion but something very real.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Unto Us A Son Is Given
by Donna Leon
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $38.95 – 262 pages)
“While none of the books are packed with thrill a minute moments, it is the slow and precise pace of Donna Leon that has given the series its charm and longevity.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

First Tracks
by Catherine O’Connell
(Severn House – $38.99 – 250 pages)
“It is a book that gets more intense by the page.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** Classic Fiction Revisited***

Inside Man
by Jeff Abbott
(Grand Central – $29.00 – 390 pages)
“…another example of suspense done well, and those who have not read a Sam Capra book previously, should quickly jump on the bandwagon.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Best October Non-Fiction ***

Marvel Encyclopedia New Edition
Introduction by Stan Lee
(DK Books – $52.00 – 450 pages)
“Any true lovers of Marvel must own this book, a first-class reference edition for the Marvel maniacs in all of us.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
by Peter Doggett
(Atria – $37.00 – 360 pages)
“…an excellent read for those who either followed the band or the performers individually.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

**** Rest of October Non-Fiction ****

Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy
by Stephen Moore & Arthur B. Laffer
(All Points Books – $37.99 – 290 pages)
“…outlines the polices that were set in place once Trump became President, along with his attempt to make good on all his campaign promises.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Modern Wedding (Creating a Celebration That Looks & Feels Like You)
by Kelsey McKinnon
(Artisan – $60.00- 386 pages)
“…looks at every fact of the wedding, covering all bases in a most engaging manner.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Adventures in Memory
by Hilde & Ylva Ostby
(Greystone  – $29.95 – 302 pages)
“The book is a brave step in understanding memory. Just don’t forget to read it.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

So Here’s the Thing…Notes on Growing Up, Getting Older, and Trusting Your Gut
by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler
(Twelve  – $35.00 – 230 pages)
“Time spent in the White House helped hone her skills in taking both light and complex issues, putting them under the magnifying glass.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Misfit: Autistic, Gay, Immigrant, Changemaker – A Memoir
by Andrea Souvaliotis
(Doubleday Canada – $22.95 – 276 pages)
“…an inspiring tale of one man’s dreams, visions and courage, and anyone who reads this work will find their own lives more than changing for the better.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

True Roots
by Kristin Cavallari
(Rodale – $29.99 – 252 pages
“She creates recipes that are free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, offering foods that are good for not only the person creating, but the entire family”
Rating: 3 1/2  bookmarks

The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health, and Beauty
by Jillian Michaels with Myatt Murphy
(Little Brown Spark – $36.50 – 300 pages)
“…will steer you in the right direction to give you more vitality.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Guide to the Real World
by Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodal
(Harvard Business Review – $39.99 – 256 pages)
“We are not lying when we state that if you want to read just one business-oriented book this year, NINE LIES ABOUT WORK, should be that book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing – Ninth Edition
by Harry Mullan, Bob Mee and Matt Bozeat
(Carlton – $59.95 – 260 pages)
“…we get to relive the glory days of pugilism.”
Rating: 4  bookmarks

The Secret Life of the Brain: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind
by Alfred David
(Firefly – $24.95 – 192 pages)
“If you are looking for a challenging read, the book is for you.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Two Fisted Tales – The EC Archives Volume 4
by Jack Davis and Colin Dawkins
(Dark Horse – $65.99 – 214 pages)
“Dark Horse has to be commended for their tribute to the classics from the EC Comics lines.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II
by James Holland
(Atlantic Monthly Press – $41.95 – 390 pages)
“James Holland offers a most readable book that focuses on what was known as Big Week.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** Classic Non-Fiction Revisited ***

She Always Knew How: Mae West A Personal Biography
by Charlotte Chandler
(Simon & Schuster – $34.00 – 317 pages)
Reviewed by Joan Sutter
“…a classic tribute to a one-of-a-kind woman, thanks to her sex appeal, one liners and style..”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Books for Children ***

The Imperfect Garden 
by Melissa Assaly & April Dela Noche Milne
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $19.95 – 32 pages)
“This is a highly-recommended picture book to show children the value of growing their own fruits and vegetables .”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Moon Watched It All
by Shelly A. Leedahl – Illustrated by Aino Anto
(Red Deer Press – $19.95- 32 pages)
“This is a charming sort of fable, involving an older woman who is alone in the world, and a boy with no name.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

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