Shelf Life – October 2014

Editor’s Notes from Issue #162

I am often asked if I like reviewing books for a living. Obviously the answer is “yes” or I would not be editing and publishing SHELF LIFE for well over 16 years. I guess if I had to make a rough guess at how many books I have reviewed, including 300 for a local newspapers from 1980-1985, I likely have reviewed in excess of 3,000 books. I enjoy what I do, and the fact there are so many great books out there to share, makes this all the more interesting and fun. Books often take on a life all their own, where you can be swept up in them and almost forget all that is around you. We hope that as you read your various books (and we hope the reviews inspire you to read lots of them) you feel the same way. Reading will never go out of style no matter what happens in the world around us.

With October being the first full month of Fall, and Halloween on the horizon, we trust the reviews are not too frightening and that we can scare up some great titles for your reading pleasures. So sit back and enjoy this issue.

Paul Sutter – Editor/Publisher
Write us at:

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

Bone Dust White
by Karin Salvalaggio
(Minotaur – $28.99 – 290 pages)
“…a most interesting title for a most interesting book.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

You Should Have Known
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
(Grand Central Publishing – $29.00 – 440 pages)
“…a mystery without the usual elements of a typical mystery.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Don’t Talk to Strangers
by Amanda Kyle
(Bantam – $31.00 – 324 pages)
“…with each new book we appreciate Keye Street all the more.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Monday, Monday
by Elizabeth Cook
(Sarah Crichton Books/FSG – $30.00 – 340 pages)
“…exceptional, a book to be treasured any day of the week.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Unlucky 13
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
(Little Brown – $31.00 – 416 pages)
“THE WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB series keeps the readers coming back for more…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

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

Strange Country
by Deborah Coates
(Tor – $31.00 – 332 pages
“…lives up to the title, with so much happening.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Otherwise Engaged
by Amanda Quick
(Putnam – $31.00 – 342 pages)
“…keeps to the quality that Quick has created in previous books, with added intrigue in this one.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Stephen Talty
(Ballantine – $31.00 – 302 pages)
“…keeps the readers hanging on with taut tension and a riveting ending…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Ascendancy
by Eric Van Lustbader
(Grand Central Publishing – $31.00 – 454 pages)
“What makes the book all the more engaging is the fact Lustbader does not overwrite.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Kraken Project
by Douglas Preston
(Forge – $31.00 – 352 pages)
“…a most unusual tale but one that borders more on science-silliness than science-fiction.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Frog Music
by Emma Donoghue
(Harper Collins – $29.95 – 404 pages)
“…does not make us croak with pleasure by the book’s finale.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Invisible Code
by Christopher Fowler
(Bantam – $30.00 – 351 pages)
Reviewed by: Ron Heimpel
“…another book packed with some unusual occurrences that are sure to confound the reader.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Free Falling As If In A Dream
by Leif GW Persson  – Translated by Paul Norlen
(Pantheon – $32.95 – 592 pages)
“By the time you finish the book, you will breathe a sigh of relief the ordeal is over..”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

River Road
by Jayne Anne Krentz
(Putnam – $31.00 – 343 pages)
“…exceptionally great fiction…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Victory at Yorktown
by Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.99 – 345 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…this duo is worthy of being part of the conversation when it comes to ‘History as Fiction’ authors.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Night Searchers
by Marcia Muller
(Grand Central Publishing – $29.00 – 290 pages)
“…slower-paced than usual, with little suspense…”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Ruin Falls
by Jenny Milchman
(Ballantine – $31.00 – 340 pages)
“…has an enigma showing itself on almost every page.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

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

Ed Bertram Landscapes of Georgian Bay
by Joan Murray, Katherine Govier & Andrea Mathieson
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $45.00 – 132 pages)
“This is one man’s take on a region that is among Canada’s most beautiful.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Hall: A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest
Forward by Tom Brockaw
(Little Brown – $39.00 – 612 pages)
“Anyone who is a fan of the sport certainly deserves to add this book to their collection…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Dorothea Lange – Grab a Hunk of Lightning
by Elizabeth Partridge
(Chronicle – $59.95 – 192 pages)
“In this tribute to Dorothea, the book has more than 100 of her best photos…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Smithsonian Science: A Visual Encyclopedia
(DK Books – $30.00 – 304 pages)
“…could be the type of book that reignites children’s interest in science.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

New York City In 3D – The Guilded Age
by Esther Crain
(Black Dog & Leventhal – $44.95 – 160 pages plus stereoscope and 50 3D cards)
“The book is packed with lots of information about the city, but the capper of the package is the stereoscope and 50 assorted scenes of New York, all in 3D.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

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

Mayim’s Vegan Table
by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon
(DaCapo Life Long – $25.50 – 224 pages)
“All recipes are basic, easy to create and ones that you will want to try many times over.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Body Reset Diet Cookbook
by Harley Pasternak MSC
(Penguin – $25.00 – 210 pages)
“The book has 150 recipes, very diverse in scope.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty
by Diane Keaton
(Random House – $31.00 – 194 pages)
“…packed with food for thought about life and the beauty of the world around us .”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Northern Armageddon
by D. Peter MacLeod
(Douglas & McIntyre – $34.95 – 380 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“deserved a place on the book shelves of history buffs.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Sorry About That – The Language of Public Apology
by Edwin L. Battistella
(Oxford University Press – $29.95 – 214 pages)
“The book is filled with dozens of people who have said things then realized silence would have been a virtue.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Beauty Queen (Inside the Reign of Avon’s Andrea Jung)
by Deborah Himsel
(Palgrave/MacMillan -$32.00 – 228 pages)
“The book is fair in relation to Jung, as the author studies the triumphs and difficulties Jung experienced.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Angel Effect
by John Geiger
(Harper Collins – $22.99 – 224 pages)
“… an interesting work about how angels factor into our lives.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Beauty at Home
by Aerin Lauder
(Potter Style – $68.00 – 240 pages)
“BEAUTY AT HOME is not about skin beauty but rather making one’s living space as comfortable and beautiful as possible.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Brunette Ambition
by Lea Michelle
(Crown Archetype – $25.00 – 210 pages)
“The book will appeal to younger girls who watch GLEE, who use her as a role model.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Eat What You Love Everyday
by Marlene Koch
(Running Press – $30.00 – 352 pages)
“…mixes good food with healthy choices.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Keep Your Brain Young
by Dr. Fraser Smith with Dr. Ellie Aghdassi
(Robert Rose – $24.95 – 386 pages)
“…the book steers you in the right direction, giving you a fighting chances to be healthy in mind, body and soul just as long as humanly possible.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows A Thousand Words
by John W. Piley with Hilary Hinzmann
Reviewed by: Donna Naylor
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $33.00 – 260 pages)
“The book is one all dog owners would definitely love…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Diary of a Mad Diva
by Joan Rivers
(Berkley – $31.00 – 292 pages)
“This is a book you will either love or loathe…”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

*** 6 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.

Scandal in the Night
by Elizabeth Essex
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 342 pages)
“…more reckless than ever…”

The Hidden Agenda of Sigrid Sugden
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $11.95 – 240 pages)
“This is truly a must-read book for anyone who has been bullied or is known as a bully.”

7 Grams of Lead
by Keith Thomson
(Anchor- $9.99 – 446 pages)
“Keith Thompson…returns with one of his best books of all.”

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
by Wendy Welch
(St. Martin’s Press – $16.99 – 290 pages)
“This is a very touching memoir about a small book store and a dream.”

by Karen Krossing
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $11.95 – 230 pages)
“…an amusing fantasy story that will be enjoyed people of all ages.”

by Jennifer Dubois
(Random House – $18.00 – 396 pages)
“…this book parallels the Amanda Knox murder case, but it still is a most gripping tale on its own.”

Shelf Life – September 2014

Editor’s Notes from Issue #161sept09cover

It also causes a chill in the bones when you type the word “September.” We know what that means for many: back to school, summer is winding down,no more fun at the beach and an assortment of other things too depressing to mention. But the fact that we are back to normal routines hopefully means there is more time for reading.

That is why, as usual, we have a bumper crop of great reads for the shorter nights and more time spent indoors. And as we always note, please keep those emails coming and let us know what you like about our choices or don’t like about them also. We cannot please everyone, simply do our best to give people advance notice of the best in books. Enjoy the issue.
Write us at:

Paul Sutter – Editor/Publisher

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

Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King
(Scribner – $36.00 – 438 pages)
“King still have that gift of telling a story that is compelling, one that we will long remember.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Kill Fee
by Owen Laukkanen
(Putnam – $31.00 – 386 pages)
“…most complex.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Keep Quiet
by Lisa Scottoline
(St. Martin’s  Press – $29.99 – 340 pages)
“…one of her best book in years.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Those Who Wish Me Dead
by Michael Koryta
(Little Brown – $29.00 – 394 pages)
“…lives up to past standards, even exceeding them.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Lincoln Myth
by Steve Berry
(Ballantine – $30.00 – 430 pages)
“…we just never seem to get enough of Cotton Malone.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

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

by Louise Mensch
(Headline Review- $32.99 – 393 pages
“Beauty has it all: scheming, murder, betrayal, love, success and more.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Mannequin Girl
by Ellen Litman
(Norton – $28.95 – 352 pages)
“…a joy to read, and would appeal to both younger and older readers.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Final Storm
by Jeff Shaara
(Ballantine – $33.00 – 446 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…an amazing work in bringing history to life.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

City of Darkness and Light
by Rhys Bowen
(Minotaur – $29.99 – 310 pages)
“…has its share of typically unusual and unexpected moments.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by Julianna Baggott
(Grand Central Publishing – $29.00 – 420 pages)
“…red-hot, bringing all plots to a satisfying conclusion.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Chestnut Street
by Maeve Binchy
(Orion – $28.99 – 390 pages)
“It is a book you will want to read many times over.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
(Viking – $32.95 – 373 pages)
Reviewed by: Donna Naylor
“…will hold your interest until the final words and you will be so glad you had the opportunity to meet such amazing characters.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Wide Open
by Deborah Coates
(Tor – $28.99 – 304 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…an engaging tale that will keep you entranced from the moment Hallie steps off the plane, until the last page.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Trouble in Mind: The Collected Stories Volume 3
by Jeffrey Deaver
(Grand Central Publishing – $29.00 – 482 pages)
“Jeffrey Deaver elevates the short story to a new level.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Do or Die
by Suzanne Brockmann
(Ballantine – $30.00 – 560 pages)
“…this is familiar territory with new characters and situations, but a book a bit on the longish side.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Prospero in Hell
by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
(Tor – $31.00 – 347 pages)
“…once you are up to speed, you will enjoy immensely…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Death Trade
by Jack Higgins
(Putnam – $28.50 – 320 pages)
“…another classic where you hold your breath while frantically turning the pages.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

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

Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture 2nd Edition
by Pete & Linda Murray and Tom Devonshire Jones
(Oxford University Press – $65.00 – 660 pages)
“Any students and scholars in the field of religion and architecture cannot help be impressed by the thoroughness of the book.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The New York Times: The Times of the Sixties
by John Rockwell
(Black Dog and Leventhal – $38.95 – 326 pages)
“…page after page we find events that have relevance even today.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Film Noir: 100 All Time Favorites
Edited by Paul Duncan & Jurgen Muller
(Taschen – $49.99US – 700 pages)
“Anyone who has a bucket list of movies they want to see should use this book for reference.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Joyous Health
by Joy McCarthy
(Penguin – $29.00 – 296 pages)
“Throughout the book she explains how to achieve your goals and what foods assist in that quest.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Everybody’s Got Something
by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers
(Grand Central Publishing – $30.00 – 262 pages)
“Her book is poignant, moving and filled with great emotion and love for all.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

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

What the Dog Knows (The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs)
by Cat Warren
(Touchstone – $29.99 – 332 pages)
Reviewed by: Donna Naylor
“Any dog lover will truly enjoy this book and how working dogs are much more than man’s best friend.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Silken Laumann
(Harper Collins – $29.99 – 292 pages)
“This book is inspirational reading for everyone.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

by Joanne Dugan
(Chronicle – $35.95 – 148 pages)
“…we see examples of what summer is all about, with quotes from famous people to add even more to the photos.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

On the Labrador
by Arnold Zageris
( Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $60.00 – 246 pages)
“‘Wow!’ does not even come close to doing this book justice.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

No Better Time
by Molly Knight Raskin
(Da Capo – $29.00 – 246 pages)
“Raskin offers a fitting tribute to a man who helped the Internet move from infancy to adulthood…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Starfinder: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to the Night Sky
by Carole Stott & Giles Sparrow
(DK Books -$25.00 – 130 pages)
“…the perfect book for those curious about the world overhead…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Bellies & Babies: The Business of Maternity and Newborn Photography
by Sandy Puc
(Wiley – $41.99 – 202 pages)
“…tells the reader how to get the most out of every photo…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Nelson Byrd Woltz Garden Park Community Farm
by Warren T. Byrd Jr., Thomas L. Woltz, Edited by Stephen Orr
(Princeton Architectural Press – $70.00 – no page count)
“The book will impress you as you discover classic design that takes sustainability and ecology into consideration.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
by Ben Bradlee Jr.
(Little Brown – $39.00 – 856 pages)
“The book is recommended for any baseball fan…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Killing of Crazy Horse
by Thomas Powers
(Knopf – $34.00 – 568 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“Powers has delivered a powerful telling of a story that has not often been told.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Black Sabbath – Symptom of the Universe
by Mick Wall
(Orion – $24.99 – 380 pages)
“…a most revealing (book) about Ozzy and company, which fans will definitely embrace with open arms.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

300 Best Stir-Fry Recipes
by Nancie McDermott
(Robert Rose – $27.95 – 352 pages)
“Be careful or you might go a little stir crazy over this book. But that is a good thing.”
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.

by Alex Kava
(Anchor – $9.99 – 416 pages)
“Maggie O’Dell novels are must-reads, especially STRANDED.”

Rules of Entanglement
by Gina L. Maxwell
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 306 pages)
“…another steamy novel with love and lust evident on almost every press.”

Do You Know Crocodiles
by Alain M. Bergeron, Michael Quinton & Illustrations by Sampar
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $9.95 – 64 pages)
“Learning is always fun and these books about making learning just that and more.”

Come, Sweet Death
by Wolf Haas
(Melville International Crime – $15.95 – 232 pages)
“This is a classic mystery not to be missed.”

Darkest Flame
by Donna Grant
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 372 pages)
“Those who have enjoyed the Dark Kings novels have recent to rejoice with the latest.”

Skink on the Brink
by Lisa Dalyrmple – Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside – $18.95 – 32 pages)
“This is a book with a major message for children and is a book you want to read and share with your children for years to come.”

Make Your Story a Movie
by John Robert Marlow
(St. Martin’s Griffin – $18.50 – 308 pages)
“If you have written a book or are considering one then this book is one of the most valuable resources around.”

Rocket Man
by Jan L. Coates
(Red Deer Press – $12.95 – 120 pages)
“This is truly an inspirational work of fiction that any younger reader can take to heart.”