Shelf Life Magazine – April 2016

Editor’s Notes for Issue #1802016 03 24 April Shelf cover

It may sound a bit redundant every year, but it never ceases to amaze just how quickly one year fades into the next. This issue represents our eighteenth year of bringing SHELF LIFE to you, and every year the pleasure in offering you reviews of the best (and occasionally the worst) in books remains as strong as ever. This is issue 180 and throughout the previous 179 we hope each time out we have inspired you to pick up many of the books. Based on your emails to us you have and we are pleased we had somewhat of a say in your choices.

Of course, we could not have done this without our great reviewers but let us not forget the publishers also, as without companies to send us books for review we could not exist. Plus, without readers picking us up everyone moth, we would not have an audience either. It is truly a team effort creating these issues and one that remains challenging and invigorating.

So here’s to many more years of Shelf Life. Thanks to all for coming along for the ride. And don’t forget your seat-belts, because it is going to be another intense journey from first page to last in every issue to come.

Write us as at Thanks as always for picking us up, Enjoy the issue.

Paul Sutter

Fiction Section
Best of the April Fiction Shelf

The Last Time I Saw Her
by Karen Robards
(Ballantine – $31.00 – 320 pages)
“The ending is shocking and satisfying, the perfect way to bring the series (maybe) to a close.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Strong Light of Day
by Jon Land
(Forge – $29.99 – 348 pages)
“…turns into a whirlwind of a read, as only Jon Land can write them.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Maybe In Another Life
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
(Washington Square Press – $21.00 – 336 pages)
“…one of the most entertaining reads in some time…a true think piece that looks at the proverbial fork in the road.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks


Rest of Fiction on the Shelf

The Rumor
by Elin Hildebrand
(Little Brown – $31.00 – 374 pages)
“…Hildebrand creates character you can relate to, drawn not from fiction but from the real world.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by M.D. Waters
(Dutton – $31.00 – 376 pages)
“…our patience has been rewarded with an even more superior tale.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Every Fifteen Minutes
by Lisa Scottoline
(St. Martin’s Press – $32.50 – 436 pages)
“The book is all meat and no filler unlike some previous efforts.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Slaughter Man
by Tony Parsons
(Century – $24.99 – 374 pages)
“…takes the series even deeper into the real of superior mystery.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
by Stephen King
(Scribner – $36.99 – 495 pages)
“…his first short story collection in a while, and they hearken back to  his glory days.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Murder House
by James Patterson and David Ellis
(Little Brown – $34.00 – 470 pages)
“Nothing is certain in the book…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Dinosaur Lords
by Victor Milan
(Tor – $31.50 – 445 pages)
Reviewed by: Ron Heimpel
“…any time you can combine knights and dinosaurs and other creatures, the book deserves to be read and savoured.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by Daniel Steel
(Delacorte – $34.00 – 326 pages)
“…a typical read, a fast read at that, because once you open the book you will definitely want to keep reading.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Paris Match
by Stuart Woods
(Putnam – $31.00 – 311 pages)
“…a book that is more readable and entertaining than ones in the past.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Silver Witch
by Paula Brackston
(St. Martin’s Press – $29.99 – 310 pages)
“…makes us appreciate Paula Brackston all the more, with her books centering on witches, that stand out from the crowd.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Day Four
by Sarah Lotz
(Little Brown – $29.90 – 342 pages)
“Sarah Lotz seems to take some plot threads but does not run with them offering a tepid telling of the tale.”
Rating: 2 1/2 bookmarks

Dreaming Spies
by Laurie R. King
(Ballantine – $31.00 – 340 pages)
“…is not the top book from the series, but still an enjoyable read with many enjoyable moments and characters.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Non-Fiction Section
Best of the April Non-Fiction Shelf

The Disney Book: A Celebration of the World of Disney
by Jim Fanning
(DK Books – $34.00 – 200 pages)
“…join the celebration with a feel-good book about a feel-good Studio…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Andy & Don (The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American Show)
by Daniel De Vise
(Simon & Schuster – $36.00 – 210 pages)
“…any fan of the show must read, he looks at the life of the actors before the began, then during it, and once it went off the air.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Earth + Space Photography from the Archives of NASA
Text by Nirmala Nataraj
(Chronicle – $53.95 – 176 pages)
“…another winner as it shows photos from the archives of NASA.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf

A Century of British Cooking
by Marguerite Patten
(Grub Street – $29.95 – 340 pages)
“…will inspire you to recreate some older and modern classics of your own.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Timeless Beauty
by Christie Brinkley
(Grand Central Life & Style – $36.00 – 210 pages)
“She says ‘I hope the book will inspire you to get stronger, fitter and leaner, so you are ready to take on any project, challenge or occasion…'”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Rock Chronicles Second Edition
Edited by David Roberts
(Firefly – $29.95 – 578 pages)
“…facts and figures regarding 250 of the biggest bands in the world.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

But Enough About Me
by Burt Reynolds with Jon Winkour
(Putnam – $34.95 – 302 pages)
“…he comes across as honest and humble, telling his side of the story about his long career in show business.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Crime Does Not Pay Volume 9 Issues 54-57
(Dark Horse Archives – $54.99 – 230 pages)
“Anyone who enjoyed crime comics will certainly want to add this book to their collection.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Eating Purely
by Elizabeth Stein
(Skyhorse – $35.95 – 338 pages)
“…the book is pure as they come, giving all the more reason to read this book.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

After Lincoln
by A.J. Langguth
(Simon & Schuster – $34.00 – 444 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…at times frustrating when someone with the 20/20 vision of hindsight can see what should have happened”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by Amy Robach
(Ballantine – $35.00 – 239 pages)
“…required reading for those who have faced cancer, and for those afraid to be tested.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

*** Recommended Books Worth A Look***

In the past SHELF LIFE has received dozens of books for review. In fact, this past Fall, our shelves were filled with more titles than ever before. It would be great if we could offer full reviews for all books but space does not permit. that to happen. That is why in this, our 18th anniversary issue, we are offering an extended section about books worthy of your attention and purchase. The reviews are shorter than the typical reviews found in most issues but suffice to say they are highly recommended. Therefore no bookmarks will be noted at review’s end.

Dark Corner
by Ruth Rendell
(Doubleday Canada – $22.95 – 280 pages)
“…this represents another amazing part of her legacy of quality and consistency.”

The Daylight Marriage
by Heidi Pitlor
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $33.95 – 246 pages)
“…certainly in a category for best new novel.”

The Grave Soul
by Ellen Hart
(Minotaur – $29.99 – 310 pages)
“…may inspire you to read previous books.”

Insatiable Appetites
by Stuart Woods
(Putnam – $32.95 – 310 pages)
“…another book where the author seems to be regaining his great writing form.”

Star Wars The Force Awakens
by Alan Dean Foster
(Del Rey – $36.00 – 260 pages)
“Your senses will awaken when you turn one page after the other, and approach the end of the novel.”

Seize the Night
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
(St. Martin’s Press – $32.50 – 343 pages)
“The DARK HUNTER novels that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes never seem tiresome or similar.”

by Edith Pearlman
(Little Brown – $28.00 – 280 pages)
“If you are a fan of the short story but most importantly the short story done well, the put HONEYDEW on your honey do list to read.”

by Wm. Paul Young
(Howard – $19.95 – 303 pages)
“…the author certainly created another momentous best seller.”

The Angel of Eden
by D.J. McIntosh
(Penguin – $26.00 – 314 pages)
“…fittingly brings the series to a thrilling conclusion.”

Tail Gait
by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
(Bantam – $31.00 – 317 pages)
“The book is a light read and no matter how you look at it, Mrs. Murphy and company are the cat’s meow.”

Unstoppable (Harnessing Science to Change the World)
by Bill Nye – Edited by Cory S. Powell
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.50 – 342 pages)
“…looks at a more serious topic, which is climate change.”

Fat Dad, Fat Kid
by Shay & Gavin Butler
(Keywords – $21.99 – 192 pages)
“Reading this book is inspiring and may motivate families to create their own challenge in the name of health and happiness.”

Lessons in Lingerie
by Rebecca Apsan with Sarah Stark
(Workman – $23.95 – 184 pages)
“…she tells readers how to shop for the best styles for your body and comfort level.”

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
by Kate Clifford Larson
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $33.95 – 302 pages)
“…has done an amazing job of bringing the story to the forefront.”

The Diva Rules
by Michelle Visage
(Chronicle – $26.99 – 212 pages)
“This Diva is delightful and the book is one that you will want to read more than once.”

Hockey Night Fever
by Stephen Cole
(Doubleday Canada – $32.00 – 396 pages)
“…definitely a feverish good look at mayhem on ice.”

Top Paperback Picks

In the final section of this issue, Shelf Life is going to list some of the best paperbacks we have received over the past few months. Because of space we re only going to list title and publisher in an effort to alert you to as many titles as possible. They are all highly recommended.

  • The Rain Soaked Bride by Guy Adams (Del Rey – $18.99) – 333 pages
  • Win Me Over by Nicole Michaels (St, Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 324 pages)
  • Primal Force by D.D. Ayres (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 326 pages)
  • Growl by Eve Langlais, Kate Douglas and A.C. Arthur (Griffin – $18.50 – 600 pages)
  • The Last True Vampire by Kate Baxter (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 375 pages)
  • The Wickedest Lord Alive by Christina Brooke (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 305 pages)
  • Start Me Up by Nicole Michaels (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 339 pages)
  • Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 -345 pages)

Shelf Life Magazine – March 2016

Editor’s Notes for Issue #179

2016 03 18 March Shelf cover

Ah March! Of course, depending where you life, life is either heading toward the Spring season or Winter is still locked in. Hopefully Spring will be in the air sooner than later. Of course, with Spring comes a new selection of titles in the reading world which will be showcased in upcoming issues. What we have in this issue are more than thirty books for all reading tastes. We trust you will find something of interest and hope you will let us know whether you agree with our choices.

Write us as at Thanks as always for picking us up, Enjoy the issue.

Paul Sutter

Fiction Section
Best of the March Fiction Shelf

As Nights Fall
by Jenny Milchman
(Ballantine – $31.00 – 366 pages)
“…a classic thriller that has a strong psychological component, one that will keep readers turning pages well into the night.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Swede
by Robert Karjel – Translated from the Swedish by Nancy Pick & Robert Karjel
(1817 Harper – $33.50 – 352 pages)
“…offers a more interesting read, which bodes well for future books in the series.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Pretty Ugly
by Kirker Butler
(Thomas Dunne  – $29.99 – 294 pages)
“Right from page one, the book grabs at the reader.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Zig-Zag Girl
by Elly Griffiths
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $32.95 – 328 pages)
“…hearkens back to the heyday of great writing with a story that is compelling, fascinating and definitely one that will hold your interest.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Woman of the Dead
by Bernard Aichner
(Scribner – $34.00 – 280 pages)
“…an absolutely mesmerizing book that is simultaneously fascinating and disturbing.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Fiction on the Shelf

Devoted in Death
by J.D. Robb
(Putnam – $35.95 – 374 pages)
“Whether you have read one or all forty-one books of the IN DEATH series, you cannot help coming back for more.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Intruder
by Hakan Ostlundh
(Minotaur – $31.50 – 393 pages)
“…does not intrude on a reader’s time, making it a very welcome read.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Willful Child
by Steve Erikson
(Tor – $28.99 – 249 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“The book is not hard science fiction but rather more a light-hearted tale that almost pokes fun at the genre.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Viking Bay
by M.A. Lawson
(Blue Rider Press – $31.00 – 340 pages)
“…a true thriller in every sense of the word”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Bangkok Asset
by John Burdett
(Knopf – $33.95 – 308 pages)
“The book begs to be read by Burdett fans and those interested in finding a different sort of hero leading the way.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Crimson Shore
by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
(Grand Central – $32.50 – 352 pages)
“The stories run the gamut from thrilling to chilling and then some.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Bradstreet Gate
by Robin Kirman
(Crown – $31.00 – 308 pages)
“…an irresistible read, one that may not have you frantically turning pages, but rather savoring the essence of the book as it slowly builds to conclusion.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Hot Pursuit
by Stuart Woods
(Putnam – $32.95 – 358 pages)
“…not even lukewarm, seemingly another book that Woods phoned in rather than taking the time to manufacture a credible plot.”
Rating: 2 bookmarks

The Doll Collection
Edited by Ellen Datlow
(Tor – $32.50 – 330 pages)
“…This is a most interesting premise, where all seventeen short stories revolve around dolls.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Set Up Man
by T.T. Monday
(Doubleday – $28.95 – 262 pages)
Reviewed by: Ron Heimpel
“It is entertaining and T.T. Monday hits this one out of the park.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

by  Bavo Dhooge with Josh Pachter
(Simon 451 – $32.99 – 294 pages)
“STYX throws convention out the window and the reader in having no idea what will come next is actually a bonus.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Wisdom of Perversity
by Rafael Yglesias
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill – $34.95 – 400 pages)
“…one of those books that is realistic and unsettling in the subject matter.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

His Whole Life
by Elizabeth Hay
(McClelland & Stewart – $32.00 – 368 pages)
“…keeps the book human and allows the reader to add some of their own introspection to the story.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Non-Fiction Section
Best of the March Non-Fiction Shelf

Reckless: My Life of A Pretender
by Chrissie Hynde
(Random House Canada – $34.95 – 322 pages)
“…gritty and honest…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation
by Marc H. Chono
(Callisto – $80.00 – 382 pages)
“This is a classic tribute to CP and those who made the company as popular as the country itself.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Photography Visionaries
by Mary Warner Marien
(Laurence King – $55.00 – 312 pages)
“…honors those great photographers who have made their mark on the world…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf

Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander In Chief
by James M.  McPherson
(Penguin Press – $37.95 – 301 pages)
Reviewed by: John M. Milner
“…may be a quick read, but the author does not scrimp on his coverage of Davis’ Presidency.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty
by Charles Leerhsen
(Simon & Schuster- $36.00 – 450 pages)
“Intermingled in Cobb’s life amidst the facts, fallacies and controversies, lies a book that is more honest than most.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Blood, Sweat and Bond (Behind the Scenes of Spectre)
Curated by Rankin
(DK Books – $46.00 – 208 pages)
“…features all the classic moments and characters from SPECTRE.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Legends of the Buffalo Bills
by Randy Schultz
(Sports Publications – $35.99 – 166 pages)
“…looks at the players who were part of classic teams.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Hope and Other Luxuries
by Clare D. Dunkle
(Chronicle – $35.00 – 560 pages)
“If you think a book like this one is difficult to read, consider those who experienced the subject matter…”.
Rating: 4 bookmarks

My Journey
by Donna Karan with Kathleen Boyes
(Ballantine – $39.00 – 362 pages)
“…combines the spiritual with the practical, in a book that shows how she became so successful and sought after in the fashion world.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

A History of Baseball in 100 Objects
by Josh Leventhal
(Black Dog & Leventhal – $45.00 – 496 pages)
“…looks at all facets of the game, to present a book that will definitely be sought after by any die-hard baseball fans…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Black Sabbath – Symptom of the Universe
by Mick Wall
(St. Martin’s Press – $32.50 – 379 pages)
“…a most telling biography of the group which began in 1969.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To
by Bethenny Frankel with Eve Adamson
(Touchstone – $29.99 – 320 pages)
“…offers food for thought for what we want and who we want in our lives.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Natural World of Winnie-The-Pooh
by Kathryn Aalto
(Timber Press – $33.95 – 308 pages)
“She takes us into the world of Winnie-The-Pooh creator A.A. Milne and right into the exact areas of nature where the adventures of Pooh, Christopher Robin, Tigger, Roo and others interacted.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

*** Best of the Rest ***

Shelf Life receives dozens of books each month. regrettably not all books received have the space for full reviews. In BEST OF THE REST, we look at a variety of titles where only much shorter reviews were given. This is so we can fit in several titles for your consideration. All the books in this section are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Because of this no bookmarks are given but are worth of adding to your reading lists and collections.

The Clown Service
by Guy Adams
(Del Rey – $18.99 – 314 pages)
“If you are looking for a book with a little bit of everything tossed in, then look no further.”

Missing Nimama
by Melanie Florence – Illustrations by Francois Thisdale
(Clockwise Press – $19.95 – 32 pages)
“This is a tale that will tug at your heartstrings.”

Hot Blooded
by Donna Grant
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 340 pages)
“…lots of steamy moments and a plot that sizzles as well.”

Pathfinder Tales: Bloodhound
by F. Wesley Schneider
(Tor – $17.50 – 466 pages)
“Chills are found on every page.”

In the Mood for Love
by Beth Ciotta
(St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 302 pages)
“Just what the chef ordered.”

The Walrus Who Escaped
by Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley – Illustrated by Anthony Brennan
(Inhabit Media – $16.95 – 32 pages)
“This is a sweet story about greed and anger, one children will find amusing.”

Last Light
by M. Pierce
(Griffin – $17.50 – 290 pages)
“LAST LIGHT makes way for the last book still to come.”

Last Light
by M. Pierce
(Griffin – $17.50 – 290 pages)
“LAST LIGHT makes way for the last book still to come.”

Stay Strong: A Musician’s Journey from Courage
by Natalie Hyde
(Clockwork Press – $12.95 – 141 pages)
“…a most inspiring profile of Gentil Misigaro who grew up in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.”