Shelf Life Magazine – June 2016

Editor’s Notes for Issue #1822016 05 25 Shelf Life June cover.jpg

One of the pleasures of having been publishing and editing Shelf Life for the past eighteen years is the fact we have reviewed thousands of books that are from all genres. Unlike many book review pages in newspapers and magazines, we strive to include a lot of diverse books and over the years think we have presented some impressive but sometimes obscure titles. While we also feature mainstream fiction and non-fiction, we will continue to endeavour to showcase books that are often not on the radar of other book reviewers. You have told us this often that you enjoy books that are not on Top Ten lists, but still deserve attention. We will continue to publish reviews of that nature. Write us as well if there are particular titles you would like to see in our pages. As long as the publishers continue sending us such titles, you will see them with these pages now and in the near future.

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

Paul Sutter

Fiction Section
Best Books on the June Fiction Shelf

Ashley Bell
by Dean Koontz
(Bantam – $36.00 – 560 pages)
“…may be too much of a departure from the usual, but if you give the book a chance, you will find just what makes it stand out from the crowd”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Pretty Girls
by Karin Slaughter
(William Morrow – $34.99 – 398 pages)
“Now comes a novel that makes pretty well everything she has written before, pale by comparison.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The First Order
by Jeff Abbott
(Grand Central Publishing – $31.50 – 390 pages)
“The SAM CAPRA series by Jeff Abbott has become more than a pleasant surprise in the world of thrillers.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of June Fiction on the Shelf

by Kit Reed
(Tor – $29.99 – 240 pages)
“WHERE has great potential, yet there are times during the book where the reader is unsure what is happening and why/”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

And West Is West
by Ron Childress
(Algonguin Books of Chapel Hill – $33.95 – 308 pages)
“…a most riveting story…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Long Upon the Land
by Margaret Maron
(Grand Central Publishing – $30.00 – 288 pages)
“This is book twenty in the popular Judge Deborah Knott series and from all accounts, this is the final one in the series.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Karen Robards
(Gallery – $35.00 – 377 pages)
“The title is most appropriate as there is a distinct darkness to the tale.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Precious Gifts
by Danielle Steel
(Delacorte Press – $35.00 – 318 pages)
“…typifies this with a story that, like many other of her books, is predictable but still entertaining.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Neighing With Fire
by Kathryn O’Sullivan
(Minotaur – $29.99 – 262 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“There is certainly nothing ‘neigh’gative about this most impressive work of fiction.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Valley of the Shadow
by Ralph Peters
(Forge – $31.50 – 509 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“I think we can safely say that Ralph Peters with his body of work has taken a place alongside Jeff Shaara as one of the best writers of the ‘history as fiction’ genre.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Angel Court Affair
by Anne Perry
(Ballantine – $32.00 – 273 pages)
“It never ceases to amaze how effortlessly Perry writes these stories as if she was reincarnated from that era.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Hesitation Cut
by Giles Blunt
(Random House Canada – $22.00 – 310 pages)
“Blunt takes a left turn with a dark psychological thriller that is definitely unlike anything the author has written before.”
Rating: 4  bookmarks

Cross Justice
by James Patterson
(Little Brown – $35.00 – 448 pages)
“It may not be the strongest book of the series, but still good enough to keep James Patterson fans most content…”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Golden Hour
by Todd Moss
(Putnam – $31.00 – 319 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“…he begins his fiction career with a most interesting story.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks


Non-Fiction Section
Best Books of the June Non-Fiction Shelf

The Marvel Avengers Encyclopedia
Written by Matt Forbeck, Matthew K. Manning & Dan Wallace with Alan Cowsill & Glenn Dakin
(Dk Books – $46.00 – 352 pages)
“…a complete view of these heroes, featuring more than 250 characters both from the side of good and evil.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Icons of Women’s Style
by Josh Sims
(Laurence King – $40.95 – 210 pages)
“The book is a trip through fashion history, with complete stories as to how and why so many items found their niche in closets around the world.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Photography by Thomas Marent – Text by Ronald Orenstein
(Firefly – $45.00 – 288 pages)
“…offers some of the most visually stunning images of butterflies.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf

Vancouver Blue
by Wayne Cope
(Harbour Publishing – $22.95 – 222 pages)
“…tells of the highlights and the lowlights of time spent on the force”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Boys in the Trees: A Memoir
by Carly Simon
(Flatiron Books – $35.50 – 375 pages)
“…most eloquent and riveting, as we discover how much behind such a successful singer was a very dark cloud…”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Battle of Alberta
by Mark Spector
(McClelland & Stewart – $32.95 – 280 pages)
“The book brings back the excitement for those who witnesses hockey rivalry at its finest.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

You Should Be Dancing: My Life With the Bee Gees
by Dennis Bryon
(ECW Press – $21.95 – 246 pages)
“The book is more about his life in general.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

Perilous Flight
by Stephen Budiansky
(Knopf – $40.00 – 422 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…his focus may be narrow, the appeal of PERILOUS FLIGHT should be to a broad audience.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones and Transformed Rock & Roll
by Fred Goodman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $32.95 – 302 pages)
“Though many are familiar with the name, many do not realize how pivotal he was to music of the sixties and beyond.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Pregnancy Encyclopedia – Canadian Edition
Consultant Editor Beth Cruickshank – Editor-in-Chief Dr. Chandrima Biswas
(DK Books – $46.00 – 352 pages)
“…a must-read book for mothers-to-be, those considering pregnancy and, of course, others who have had multiple births.”
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 Winter, 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 we are again 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.

The Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.50 – 326 pages)
“…it makes for typical mayhem that is a trademark of the series.”

Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins
by Reed Farrell Coleman
(Putnam – $35.00 – 343 pages)
“Another definite winner in the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone series…”

What the Waves
by Tamara Valentine
(William Morrow – $18.50 – 336 pages)
“…a poignant and thought-provoking story.”

Orchids and Stone
by Lisa Preston
(Thomas & Mercer – $22.95 – 310 pages)
“…an intelligent work that will impress you with its riveting plot.”

How to Start a Fire
by Lisa Lutz
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $33.95 – 340 pages)
“…will appeal to a most diverse audience.”

Born of Betrayal
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
(St. Martin’s Press – $32.50 – 501 pages)
“The book continues the series nicely, getting it back on course for future tales.”

by Kelley Armstrong
(Random House Canada – $29.95 -458 pages)
“…chilling fiction at its best…”

Pretending to Dance
by Diane Chamberlain
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.50 – 339 pages)
“…a morality tale of what not to do…”

The Murder of Mary Russell
by Laurie R. King
(Bantam – $37.00 – 366 pages)
“This reworking of the Sherlock Holmes story although set well in the past, still has a more modern feel to it somehow.”

Down Among the Dead Men
by Peter Lovesey
(Sphere – $36.99 – 377 pages)
“…will keep the reader guessing as to who is guilty…”

Scared Wheatless
by Mary Jo Eustace
(Whitecap – $29.95 – 200 pages)
“…it is most serious providing recipes for those who crave gluten-free recipes.”

Steal the Show
by Michael Port
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – $33.95 – 237 pages)
“…he uses the power of positive speaking so to speak, giving people the courage to stand out from a crowd…”

Frank & Ava In Love and War
by John Brady
(Thomas Dunne – $31.50 – 292 pages)
“…definitely a book for those who love classic tales of the rich and famous and their flirtatious lives.”

Shift Work
by Tie Domi with Jim Lang
(Simon & Schuster – $32.00 – 227 pages)
“…an entertaining read for hockey fans and those who followed the tumultuous career of Domi.”

Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter
by Peter Kilduff
(Grub Street – $39.95 – 194 pages)
“…looks at the kills claimed by Bishop and those credited to him, with an eye to what is fact and what is fiction.”

Movie Freak
by Owen Gleiberman
(Hachette – $34.00 – 338 pages)
“…he is not afraid to tell it like it is.”

Passionate Vegetarian
by Crescent Dragonwagon
(Workman – $33.95 – 1110 pages)
“It happens to be one of the most complete books on vegetarian eating that you will ever find.”

Woman on Fire
by Amy Jo Goddard
(Avery – $33.95 – 302 pages)
“…this will keep the spark and fire alive for many years to come.”

The Little Vanilla Book
by Lux Alani
(Beyond Words/Atria – $20.99 – 117 pages)
“This book is short and sweet and will definitely surprise and impress you.”

A Boy Asked the Wind
by Barbara Nickel – Illustrated by Gillian Newland
(Red Deer Press – $19.95 – 40 pages)
“…the book is filled with where the wind  comes from  and what it can do all around the world.”

Loud Lulu
by Katy S. Duffield  – Pictures by Mike Boldt
(Two Lions- $25.99 – 32 pages)
“A truly fun story for children.”

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 are only going to list title and publisher in an effort to alert you to as many titles as possible. They are all highly recommended reading.

  • Tall, Dark Billionaire Texan by Mandy Baxter (St. Martin’s Press – $9.99 – 406 pages) – Romance
  • Pathfinder Tales: Bloodhound by F. Wesley Schneider (Tor – $17.50 – 470 pages) – Fantasy/Horror
  • The Wild One by Gemma Burgess (Griffin – $18.50 – 292 pages) – Romance



Shelf Life Magazine – May 2016

Editor’s Notes for Issue #1812016 05 20 May Shelf Issue Cover

Although this issue is being planned out on April Fool’s Day, there is no joking inside the issue. Shelf Life brings you the best in books with serious reviews of books that are relevant within our lives. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, our reviewers strive to offer comments about the books that will guide you in your book purchases. You want to get the best value for your hard-earned money, and this is where Shelf Life tries to help you select books for you and your family that will amuse, entertain, and hopefully leave a lasting impression. Enjoy the issue and please write us and let us know whether you agree or disagree with our choices.

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

Paul Sutter

Fiction Section
Best of the May Fiction Shelf

See Me
by Nicholas Sparks
(Grand Central Publishing – $32.50 – 486 pages)
“…a book that must be seen and totally savoured.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Depraved Heart
by Patricia Cornwell
(Harper Collins – $32.99 – 466 pages)
“…a book that packs a knockout mystery punch like few books before in the series.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Hostage Taker
by Stefanie Pintoff
(Bantam – $34.00 – 422 pages)
“…creates major suspense and drama, making it one of the top ten books of the past year.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Fiction on the Shelf

The Lake House
by Kate Morton
(Atria – $32.00 – 496 pages)
“…provides a most interest generational tale that will keep readers entertained for the entire book.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Other Daughter
by Lauren Willig
(St. Martin’s Press – $29.99 – 296 pages)
“…a book that will grip you tightly and hold you, never loosening its hold at any point during the story.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Zodiac Deception
by Gary Kriss
(Forge – $29.99 – 495 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“Almost from the first page, we are swept up in the intrigue and excitement of the story.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Other Son
by Alexander Soderberg
(Crown – $26.00 – 388 pages)
“The book was translated from the Swedish but it is still a great read in any language.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

The Girl in the Spider’s Web
by David Lagercrantz
(Viking – $34.00 – 400 pages)
“…Lagercrantz has managed to continue the story in the most inventive ways.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Obsession Falls
by Christina Dodd
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.50 – 392 pages)
“A so-so book suddenly turns so-so good.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

The Crossing
by Michael Connelly
(Little Brown – $34.00 – 392 pages)
“His penchant for creating stellar mystery is as strong as ever.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

by Dan Fesperman
(Knopf – $32.00 – 316 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“Besides being a work of fiction, it still works well as a think piece…”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith
(Mulholland – $34.00 – 500 pages)
“…we know something big will happen by book’s end.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

Vince Flynn The Survivor
by Kyle Mills
(Emily Bestler/Atria – $32.00 – 388 pages)
“Mills has kept the same vision as Flynn did.”
Rating: 4 1/2 bookmarks

by Orson Scott Card
(Tor – $29.99 – 385 pages)
Reviewed by Ron Heimpel
“This is the weakest book in the series, a let-down of sorts from books one and two.”
Rating: 3 bookmarks

The Fateful Lightning
by Jeff Shaara
(Ballantine – $34.00 – 615 pages)
Reviewed by John M. Milner
“…Shaara has been able to use his unique narrative style to bring the characters to life and telsl the story that has all too often, overlooked.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

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

Disney Pixar: The Art of the Good Dinosaur
Foreword by John Lasseter
(Chronicle – $55.00 – 172 pages)
“…the reader is given a total overview of the intricate process that goes into creating every aspect of the film.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Players Second Edition
Edited by Steve Cameron
(Firefly – $29.95 – 354 pages)
“More than 450 photos comprise this volume, offering a more complete look at the players inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

The Girl with Nine Wigs
By Sophie Van Der Stap
(St. Martin’s Press – $29.99 – 280 pages)
“The story is as inspirational as they come…”
Rating: 5 bookmarks

Rest of Non-Fiction on the Shelf

Becoming Beyonce: The Untold Story
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
(Grand Central Publishing – $34.00 – 496 pages)
“…probes into her life with some little known facts before she became a household name.”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Napoleonic Wars in Cartoons
by Mark Bryant
(Grub Street – $29.95 – 160 pages)
“…they represent an interesting part of history and deserve to be seen to be appreciated”
Rating: 3 1/2 bookmarks

Cabin Porn
by Zach Klein
(Little Brown – $36.00 – 330 pages)
“…showcases (surprise, surprise) hundreds of cabins around the world.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Essential Perennials
by Ruth Rogers Clausen & Thomas Christopher – Photographs by Alan L. Detrick & Linda Detrick
(Timber Press – $58.95 – 424 pages)
“…will put you in the mood quite nicely with a mind-boggling number of flowers mentioned throughout the book.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Queen Elizabeth II and Her Royal Family
(DK Books – $46.00 – 260 pages)
“…the history of the British monarchy is presented from the 5th century onward.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen
by Kathy Patalsky
(Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt – $33.00 – 352 pages)
“Vegan is more than a fad, it is a lifestyle that more and more people are discovering, thanks to books like this one.”
Rating: 4 bookmarks

The Power Of I Am (Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today)
by Joel Osteen
(Faith Words – $31.50 – 300 pages)
“The book has a simple premise based on two words: ‘I am.’ It may seem simple but in those two words are positives.”
Rating: 3 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.

The Novel Habits of Happiness
by Alexander McCall Smith
(Knopf Canada – $29.95 – 260 pages)
“…has something for everyone.”

The Ripper Gene
by Michael Ransom
(Forge – $28.99 – 303 pages)
“You won’t need to file your fingernails while reading the book. You will be chewing them incessantly as you turn the pages non-stop to read the chilling finale.”

The Nature of the Beast
by Louise Penny
(St. Martin’s Press – $32.50 – 376 pages)
“…(has) a distinctive Canadian flavour that readers from any country can enjoy.”

Scandalous Behavior
by Stuart Woods
(Putnam – $36.00 – 310 pages)
“…Woods seems to have come on strong here, giving Barrington new life and problems.”

Toward Yesterday
by Paul Anthony Jones
(47 North – $21.95 – 280 pages)
“All the characters are most entertaining…”

The Scarlet Gospels
by Clive Barker
(St. Martin’s Press – $31.50 – 363 pages)
“Yes, the book is graphic to the max and yes, the book really is a no-holds-barred chiller of a finale.”

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood
by Patrick Modiano
(Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt – $29.95 – 155 pages)
“…tucked into this short but sweet volume is a story that will have you turning pages, frantically, and reading well into the night…”

All Dressed in White
by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
(Simon & Schuster – $32.00 – 272 pages)
“The book is written in a way that no one seems above suspicion and the deeper that Laurie probes, the more in appears the answers are disturbing and surprising.”

Pipsie Nature Detective: The Lunchnapper
by Rick Dedonato – Illustrated by Tracy Bishop
(Two Lions – $26.95 – 32 pages)
“…the perfect book for children who find that being part of nature makes them an even happier part of the world they live in.”

The Ultimate Book of Zombie Warfare and Survival
by Scott Kenemore
(Skyhorse – $28.99 – 276 pages)
“…essential reading if you should ever meet a zombie or two…”

A History of Photography in 50 Cameras
by Michael Pritchard
(Firefly – $29,95 – 223 pages)
“…we owe debts of gratitude to those camera pioneers who made it possible to enjoy what we have today. This book pays tribute to them all.”

You First Journal: Your Way To Your Best Life
by Lea Michele
(Crown Archetype – $23.99 – 240 pages)
“…lets the reader answer honestly and learn more about themselves than they ever imagined.”

True Style (The History and Principles of Classic Menswear)
by G. Bruce Boyer
(Basic Books- $33.99 – 272 pages)
“This book may be more geared to the GQ crowd, but there is no reason why the average male cannot learn a thing or two.”

Arrival of Eagles
by Andy Sanders
(Grub Street – $39.95 – 191 pages)
“…contains a fount of information from the archives of the Second World War.”

Undertaker 25 Years of Destruction
(WWE/DK Books – $29.00 – 208 pages)
“In this tribute book, the highlights of the Undertaker’s quarter-century career are shown from the first matches to more recent ones.”

My Artsy
by Drew Hayden Taykir
(Douglas & McIntyre – $22.95 – 250 pages)
“Reading the book will inspire anyone to seek out the ‘art’ of these talented individuals.”

Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far)
by Sara Bareilles
(Simon & Schuster – $34.99 – 188 pages)
“This is an important book in so many ways and those who have suffered with similar issues will find solace in her words.”

The School of Greatness
by Lewis Howes
(Rodale – $29.99 – 250 pages)
“…reading the book will help tap into your own creative processes and meet every challenge head on.”

First Bite
by Bee Wilson
(Basic Books – $34.99 – 352 pages)
“…the author tells us that how we learn to eat earlier in life, often sets in stone the way our eating habits will affect the rest of our lives.”