Shelf Life – April 2014 – 16th Anniversary Special Edition

Editor’s Notes from Issue #156apr14shelfcover

Welcome to the 16th Anniversary issue of SHELF LIFE. The years certainly pile up on us, and it is hard to believe just how quickly they fade from one to the next. A lot has happened during that time both good and bad. But the last year has really been one that has brought the most difficulties.

Personally, I am still waiting for a date for open-heart surgery, but that shall come hopefully soon. The year has also not been kind for my mother, Joan, who until the last few issues had been reviewing books for over ten years. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it has been a difficult few months for her, but the spirit is still strong and even through adversity, she still is a most inspiring role model for me.

I want to thank my reviewers for always being more than willing to review books. I want to thank the readers for remaining faithful and picking up every issue. But most of all I want to thank the publishers for their commitment to sending so many quality books. They are always an honor to review.

No one knows what the future holds, but let us hope as every anniversary approaches that we are able to face them with dignity and optimism and that the positives outweigh the negatives. Thanks as always for picking up each issue.

Paul Sutter – Editor/Publisher

*** Fiction Section ***
*** Finest 5 of the Fiction Shelf ***

by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
(Little Brown – $31.00 – 386 pages)
“…a superior mystery…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

by Ted Dekker
(Center Street – $28.00 – 346 pages)
“…so powerful at times that you may have trouble stomaching some of the scenes…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Save Yourself
by Kelly Braffet
(Crown – $28.00-310 pages)
“…a most intriguing book…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Mystery Woman
by Amanda Quick
(Putnam – $28.50-370 pages)
“There is a little bit of everything within its pages…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Ghost Medicine
by Aimee and David Thurlo
(Forge – $28.99 – 320 pages)
“…another superior tale from the Thurlos.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of Fiction on the Shelf ***

The Tamarack Murders
by Patrick F. McManus
Skyhorse – $29.95 – 202 pages
“…you will find lots to enjoy.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

by Sophie Cossette
(ECW Press- $24.95 – 174 pages)
“…a wicked and irreverent look at some of Hollywood’s most famous directors.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

How The Light Gets In
by Louise Penny
(Minotaur – $29.99 – 406 pages)
“Louise Penny continues to impress with her novels.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Children of the Revolution
by Peter Robinson
(McLelland and Stewart – $29.95 – 388 pages)
“…great intrigue and mystery…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

A Blaze of Glory
by Jeff Shaara
(Ballantine – $34.00 – 435 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…repays the reader’s patience by delivering pulse-racing action as the battle rages to its climax.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Death of the Black-Haired Girl
by Robert Stone
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $29,95 – 282 pages)
“….not a rapid page turner but one you grow to appreciate one page at a time.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Love Story, With Murders
by Harry Bingham
(Orion – $22.99 – 442 pages)
“…you can easily gloss over the minuses and focus on the positives with the book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

New Earth
by Ben Bova
(Tor – $28.99 – 384 pages)
Review by: Ron Heimpel
“…the combination of science-fiction and science-fact makes for a most entertaining space tale.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Bomb Shell
by Catherine Coulter
(Putnam – $28.50 – 392 pages)
“…will truly blow you away.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Midnight at Marble Arch
by Anne Perry
(Ballantine – $32.00 – 338 pages)
“She never skimps on characters or plot and it shows.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Light In a Dark House
By Jan Costin Wagner
(Harvill Secker – $22.00 – 328 pages
“The books are character-driven, meaning there is not intense action, but instead brains triumphing over brawn.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Technologists
by Matthew Pearl
(Random House – $31.00 – 480 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“‘Breathtaking’ is the best word to describe the thrill ride…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

New Money
by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
(Thomas Dunne – $28.99 – 326 pages)
“…filled with characters we love and many we totally despise.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section ***
*** Finest 5 on the Non-Fiction Shelf ***

Disney: The Art of Frozen
By Charles Solomon
(Chronicle – $48.00 – 160 pages)
“….you feel the Disney magic on ever page of the book.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Houses of Worship
By Mark Schacter
(Fifth House – $39.95 – 250 pages)
“…a most impressive work.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

David and Goliath (Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants)
by Malcolm Gladwell
(Little Brown – $32.00 – 306 pages)
“…studies how the underdog can win, but it is not always easy.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

by Laurence Maslon & Michael Kantor
(Crown Archetype – $46.00 – 304 pages)
“…super reading for any comics fan of the past fifty years or more.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Smithsonian Earth: The Definitive Visual Guide
Edited by James F. Luhr
(DK Books – $50.00 – 530 pages)
“This updated edition is the best to date.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf ***

Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards 3rd Edition
(Krause – $33.99 – 696 pages)
“…you will be impressed by the sheer volume of different baseball collectibles that were created.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Let Me Off At the Top!
by Ron Burgundy
(Doubleday Canada – $27.00 – 224 pages)
“…you will appreciate the irreverence and bad taste lines throughout the book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Happily Ever After
by Trista Sutter
(DaCapo-Lifelong – $27.50 – 272 pages)
“…a book that you will refer to when you are feeling at a low ebb, needing a gentle pick-me-up,”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

What If…
by Shirley MacLaine
(Atria -$27.00 – 264 pages)
“…she discusses topics that are near to her, making observations and ‘reasonable guesses’ about a host of subjects.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Break Out!
by Joel Osteen
(Faith Words – $29.00 – 245 pages)
“…all about being the best person you can be.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Johnny Cash: The Life
By Robert Hilburn
(Little Brown-$35.00-680 pages)
“…does a remarkable job of capsulizing his life and times.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Fifty Railroads That Changed the Course of History
by Bill Laws
Firefly-$29.95-236 pages
“….a great testimony to the bold visions of those who began railways.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Oxford Dictionary of Humourous Quotations
by Giles Brandreth
(Oxford University Press-$35.00 US-466 pages)
“The fact they are so diverse is what makes the book most enjoyable.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Photographing Family Tips for Capturing Timeless Images
by Michelle Celentano
(Wiley-$35.99-234 pages)
“…the perfect book for the amateur who wants to take shots like a pro.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Hillbilly Heart
by Billy Ray Cyrus
(New Harvest-$29.99-274 pages)
“His personal story is entertaining, and he admits he has a notorious side sort of like Miley.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Beatles vs. Stones
by John McMillian
(Simon & Schuster -$29.99-304 pages)
“…talks of the classic rivalry…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Not Quite the Classics
By Colin Mochrie
(Viking-$24.00-232 pages)
“…adds some wry twists on literary works.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Cookbook
by Arthur Agatston MD
(Rodale-$31.99-310 pages)
“…not only gluten-free but they do not have any ingredients that are unfriendly to the body.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Body Book
by Cameron Diaz with Sandra Bark
(Harper Wave-$31.00-280 pages)
“…a most informative book that any woman any age can pick up and immediately learn from.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

*** 7 Books in 75 Words or Less ***

Shelf Life introduces a new section, where we present recommended titles, that because of space cannot offer full reviews for. In 75 Words or less, we give a short review of the book and why you should be reading it. No bookmarks are given but we can assure you the books noted here are all highly recommended.

A Highly Unlikely Scenario
by Rachel Cantor
(Melville House – $16.95 – 249 pages)
“…one of the most fun and inventive books in some time…”

The Devil Wears Kilts
by Suzanne Enoch
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 332 pages)
“…definitely one of the most interesting book titles…”

Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser
Written and Illustrated by Ged Adamson
(Sky Pony Press-$20.95-32 pages)
“A fun book.”

The White Bicycle
by Beverly Brenna
(Red Deer Press-$12.95)
“A very warm and inspiring fiction story…”

The Doll Princess
by Tom Benn
(Vintage-$16.95-290 pages)
“Hard to put down!”

The Greatest Love Ever
by Christina Brooke
(St. Martin’s-$9.99-326 pages
“Lots of passion in this story.”

A Dark Place to Die
by Ed Chatterton
(Arrow-$18.95-435 pages)
“Another classic murder mystery that forces you to keep reading.”

Shelf Life – March 2014

Editor’s Notes from Issue #155

ShelfMar2014Dear Readers: Shelf Life has never published a correction during its almost sixteen years of being published. One must be offered now and ironically it has nothing to do with books. In the January issue, I mentioned having an ablation done on my heart. Well, I suppose that is a case of wishful thinking. I completed the issue before that time, assuming everything would be done as planned. If only!

The ablation was scheduled that time, and at the hospital they had to do another test first to check for cloths around the heart. Well, they found a tear in my artificial heart valve, necessitating a cancellation of that procedure for another day, But upon further tests, it was discovered another valve must be replaced and an ablation done hopefully at the same time. So rather than assume it will be done at a specified time, I will say, I hope it will be completed sometime soon.

Now that this has been cleared up, I draw your attention to the latest assortment of titles, books for every reading taste. With the nights getting longer and hopefully the bitter cold weather on the wane, once more you turn your attention to books, and there are over thirty-five for you to choose from. So sit back, enjoy, and be sure to pick up the April Shelf Life, which is our sixteenth anniversary issue.

Paul Sutter – Editor/Publisher

*** Fiction Section ***
*** Finest 5 of the Fiction Shelf ***

A Tap on the Window
by Linwood Barclay
(Doubleday Canada – $22.00 – 500 pages)
“If someone should tap on your window and offer you this book, grab it!”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

How To Be A Good Wife
by Emma Chapman
(St. Martin’s Press – $28.99 – 276 pages)
“…a true psychological thriller, where nothing is as it seems…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Longest Ride
by Nicholas Sparks
(Grand Central Publishing – $30.00-400 pages)
“…shows what Sparks does best, offering a classic love story…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

by Kay Hooper
(Berkley – $28.50-306 pages)
“…has done a great job of fusing the supernatural with suspense.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Light in the Ruins
by Chris Bohjalian
(Doubleday – $30.00 – 309 pages)
“…will appeal to readers who not only like a great mystery but also a historical one as well”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of Fiction on the Shelf ***

Black Bottle
by Anthony Huso
Tor – $31.99 – 445 pages
Reviewed by: Ron Heimpel
“The book had potential but at times it seemed scattered and though with moments of great intensity, they seemed limited.”
Rating: 2 1/2 bookmarks

Paris Twilight
by Russ Rymer
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $29.99 – 296 pages)
“…while there are some parts of the book filled with greats intrigue, there are others that plod along.”
Rating: 2 bookmarks

The Dark Legacy of Shannara: Bloodfire Quest
by Terry Brooks
(Ballantine – $30.00 – 355 pages)
“Terry Brooks has created another Shannara classic, as only he can write them.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Storm Front
by John Sandford
(Putnam – $29.50 – 376 pages)
“…almost reads like a comedy of errors, as many show futility and incompetence trying to reclaim the stone…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

A Killing of Angels
by Kate Rhodes
(Mulholland – $22.99 – 328 pages)
“…has enough intrigue to keep us reading.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Cross My Heart
by James Patterson
(Little Brown – $32.00 – 422 pages)
“…Patterson pens a relentless thrill ride.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Ask Bob
by Peter Gethers
(Henry Holt – $29.00 – 300 pages)
“If you can get past the first few chapters, you are going to find this book most rewarding.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

by Arnaldur Indridason
(Minotaur – $24.99 US – 281 pages)
Review by: Ron Heimpel
“No wonder the author is so well-respected right around the world.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Mystery Girl
by David Gordon
(New Harvest – $29.99 – 304 pages)
“…Gordon knows how to craft a novel with an interesting premise and characters.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Traveling Sprinkler
by Nicholas Baker
(Blue Rider Press – $28.50 – 292 pages)
“…at times it works magnificently, while at other times seems flatter than soda left in the fridge for a few days.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

A Darker Shade of Sweden
Edited and Translated by John-Henri Holmberg
(Mysterious Press – $30.50 – 362 pages
“Not every story shines like diamonds, but the majority are ones you will intensely like.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Ben Bova
(Tor – $28.99 – 367 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“…continues his literary excellence.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $34.95 – 466 pages)
“…this book is a must-own.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

*** Non-Fiction Section***
*** Finest 5 on the Fiction Shelf ***

Inside the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America
By Leslie Zemeckis
(Skyhorse – $29.95 – 360 pages)
“…a most informative about a popular part of culture…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Smithsonian Music: The Definitive Visual Guide
(DK Books – $50.00 – 480 pages)
“The research is most meticulous, from the seemingly obscure to the major aspects of music.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Great War
by Peter Hart
(Oxford University Press – $39.95 – 525 pages)
“…one of the most definitive books about World War One.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Christopher Pratt Six Decades
by Tom Smart
(Firefly – $60.00 – 175 pages)
“…one of Canada’s most regarded artists, with his work spanning six decades.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Johnny Carson
by Henry Bushkin
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $36.00 – 294 pages)
“…offers an honest appraisal of Carson’s life…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

*** Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf ***

Website Optimization An Hour A Day
By Rich Page
(Sybex/Wiley – $35.99 – 334 pages)
“…offers an intense step-by-step guide showing us what to do every day.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Power of Negative Thinking
by Bob Knight with Bob Hammel
(New Harvest – $29.99 – 225 pages)
“You can certainly bank a lot of what he has to say here.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Mouthwatering Vegan
by Miriam Sorrell
(Appetite/Random House – $29.95 – 280 pages)
“…might convert you to the vegan side.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Chainsaw Confidential
by Gunnar Hansen
(Chronicle -$ 29.95 – 240 pages)
“…shows how a cult classic was created, with the good and not so memorable aspects of the entire filming process.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Kate: The Future Queen
by Katie Nicholl
(Weinstein – $29.00 – 354 pages)
“The book is filled with an honest assessment of her life, without the attempt at digging up dirt for the sake of selling books.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

There’s More To Life Than This
By Theresa Caputo with Kristian Grish
(Atria-$28.99-240 pages)
“…a strong case for helping us understand life after death.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

High Heel Heaven
by Tracy Martin – Photography by Terry Benson
Ryland, Peters and Small-$19.95-128 pages
“…a shoe lover’s delight, where sexy and seductive styles lead the way.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Queens of Noise: The Real Story Of The Runaways
by Evelyn McDonnell
(DaCapo-$29.00-342 pages)
“…sets the record straight…creating a book that makes one wish things had not turned out differently…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

2014 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 41st Edition
by George S. Cuhaj & Thomas Michael
(Krause-$6.99-2350 pages)
“With 2350 pages, we simply marvel at how complete these coin guides are…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Giada’s Feel Good Food
by Giada De Laurentis
(Potter-$35.00-256 pages)
“…the book is a healthy one step way to not only eating better but also looking better as well.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Vegan Chocolate
by Fran Costigan
(Running Press-$34.50-306 pages)
“…all about decadent vegan chocolate recipes…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Best of Rose Reisman
By Rose Reisman
(Whitecap-$36.00-428 pages)
“…just that, truly the best in varied recipes.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Sass Brown
(Laurence King-$41.00-210 pages)
“The book features 46 designers who are doing their part for the environment through clothing that is recycled and up-cycled.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** 8 Books in 75 Words or Less ***

Shelf Life introduces a new section, where we present recommended titles, that because of space cannot offer full reviews for. In 75 Words or less, we give a short review of the book and why you should be reading it. No bookmarks are given but we can assure you the books noted here are all highly recommended.

The Raven and the Loon
by Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley – Illustrated by Kim Smith
(Inhabit Media – $16.95 – 32 pages)
“A charming Inuit tale…”

Twilight With the Amorous Earl
by Alexander Hawkins
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 292 pages)
“There is lust on every page!”

In Sunlight and In Shadow
by Mark Helprin
(Mariner-$19.95-702 pages)
“…filled with great moments and a writing style that will totally dazzle you.”

by Valerie Sherrard
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside-$9.95-190 pages)
“A great story for young readers…”

The Memory of Blood
by Christopher Fowler
(Bantam-$17.00-350 pages)
“Another great mystery…”

by Cassie Alexander
(St. Martin’s-$9.99-310 pages
“Definitely a book that goes for the jugular in tension.”

September 17
by Amanda West Lewis
(Red Deer Press-$14.95-314 pages)
“…totally riveting, told with great passion.”

A Death in Valencia
by Jason Webster
(Vintage-$18.95-310 pages)
“Another Jason Webster classic!”