Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

graphic of cluttered bookshelf with the title of the book handwritten.“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines - it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

Clay Jannon, a recently unemployed graphic designer, takes a job in an unusual bookstore in San Francisco. There he finds an interesting but small cast of characters: His boss, who has ordered him not to read any of the books on the shelves and the few customers he sees during his graveyard shift that "arrive with algorithmic regularity", without paying for the items they leave with. His curiosity gets the better of him and after opening some of the books he was ordered not to he stumbles on a 500 year old secret society.

Robin Sloan worked for a variety of technology companies over the last decade so this book is peppered with sentences like “He has the strangest expression on his face- the emotional equivalent of 404 PAGE NOT FOUND.” It's hard to not like a book that talks about ancient secret societies on one page and merits of different programming languages on the next.

Find Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in the library.

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

“I’m not going to ask you to come with me. That would be like stepping in front of a moving train and saying, ‘Hey, honey, come stand next to me.’”
I hopped off the wall and stood next to him. “Anytime.”
He just looked at me.
“I’ve never killed a train before. It might be fun to try.”

Book six in the Kate Daniels series by husband-and-wife author team Ilona Andrews expands upon the "Post Shift" world. All the previous books have been set in and around Atlanta, Georgia, after magic returned to the world, casting it into upheaval. This time, Kate and her honey, the shapeshifter Beast Lord, are traveling across the treacherous ocean to Europe. Tangled up in the savage politics of the Continental shapeshifter packs and being manipulated by a deadly figure out of her family history, Kate is walking a knife's edge.  

The characters never fail to be engaging and the settings are rich with their own personalities. Not exactly the best writing ever, but certainly an enjoyable chapter in the saga. This story features the death of a major character, but also introduces a new one that definitely promises to be entertaining. And the ending left me grinning. Can't wait to read the next one!

Find Magic Rises in the Library.

Victoria, Technical Services

Warm Bodies

Young man handing young woman yellow flowers. There is a painted white heart over a red background behind them.“They call these guys Bonies. They don't bother us much, but they'll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I'm conflicted about it.”

Warm Bodies is a hilarious romantic comedy loosely based on Romeo and Juliet. You have R, a zombie wanting more in life and there is Julie, a human girl fighting to stay alive after the zombie apocalypse. When R first sees Julie, he realizes that there is something different about her so he decides to keep her alive. The longer R spends time with Julie, the more he wants to be with her. To make the situation more complicated, Julie’s father is the leader of the human resistance group. To make matters even worse, Bonies, zombies who have given up on humanity, are chasing R and Julie to prevent them from changing the world. 

As a zombie fan, I found this movie to be fascinating and entertaining. Zombies are hardly seen in adoring ways and this movie nails it. R (played by Nicholas Hoult) plays his role as a zombie slowly regaining his humanity because of his love for Julie. In the beginning, R is seen as very mechanical and expressionless, but with his narration throughout the movie, you get a sense of his inner human. Warm Bodies gives an interesting look at zombies, which are traditionally given evil purposes in movies and turn them into sympathetic creatures needing of love. 

Find Warm Bodies in the Library

Shaira, Reference Services

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Green smoke rising above a house.In a small town where nothing happens, things are going to change. It all starts when Jeremy, under the spell of the beautiful Ginger, has his first Prince Cake. The legend says that you'll fall in love with the first thing that sees you during your first bite. Jeremy keeps his eyes closed, but when he sneezes, Ginger is the first thing that sees him when his eyes open. Now he's a willing participant in her schemes. And who knows where that's going to take him?

Jeremy lives in a town that's closely associated with fairy tales, his missing mother's favorite reading. He's assisted through life by the ghost of Jacob Grimm. And his world is about to explode.

Find Far Far Away in the library.

Do You Lie About What You Read?

A new survey released found that more than 60% of Britons claim to have read books they haven't to appear smarter. Some of them go to great lengths to convince others that they are more literate than they actually are. Some relied on film adaptions, others keep "important" unread books on their bookshelves.

The top ten books Britons claim to have read, but haven't, are:

1984 by George Orwell – 26%

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%

Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%

A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%

Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Which ones have you read?

Original article.

Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett (beautiful, blonde-headed, blue eyed woman) looking into a cloudy distance with sunglasses perched on top her head.Woody Allen’s new movie, Blue Jasmine is being marketed as a dark comedy. While I found the title character, Jasmine French (played by Cate Blanchett) to be dark, I found her descent into madness to be far from humorous. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the film. I did. The supporting cast was wonderful: Alec Baldwin (as Hal, the husband and all-around shady character), Sally Hawkins (as Ginger, the gullible and always loving sister), Peter Sarsgaard (as Dwight, the rich guy with political aspirations), and Andrew Dice Clay (as Augie, Ginger’s larger-than-life fiancé).  If you go expecting scenic San Francisco location shots or storybook endings, you’ll be disappointed. This is Cate Blanchett at her finest. Everything else is just secondary. There is one thing I would like to ask Woody: why do all the minor characters have New Jersey accents?

Find Woody Allen's other films in the library. His most famous film is Annie Hall, which won him a Best Picture Oscar in 1978.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

“We are like water, aren’t we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too. And something else, I think to myself. Like water, we mostly follow the path of least resistance.”

We Are Water is a layered portrait of the modern American family. It centers on Anna Oh—wife and mother; outsider artist and lesbian bride-to-be—and the family relationships that are severed and mended as Anna moves through her life. Anna’s hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut serves as a quaint backdrop masking a history of personal trauma and racial tension. Anna’s turbulent past and transitional present intersect as each chapter is narrated by a different character: Orin, martyr and ex-husband; Andrew, Ariane, and Marissa, Anna’s dissimilar children; and Kent, Anna’s cousin and childhood tormenter.

We Are Water is more than the portrait of a broken American family. Alternating narrators spring between past and present to capture the emotional trauma that leads to the Oh family’s destruction. As readers begin to fully know the Oh Family their secrets peel away chapter by chapter unveiling the destructive nature of silence. We Are Water is a lengthy emotional upheaval demanding sympathy, disgust, and forgiveness. 

Find We Are Water in the Library

Kathleen, Reference Services

The World's End

The World's end PosterThe new collaboration from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg opens in theaters this weekend. The World's End tells the story of a group of friends who return to their hometown to re-attempt the greatest bar crawl in history, visiting every pub in town in a single night. Everything turns into a disaster as the townsfolk begin acting strangely and the friends realize they might be in the middle of the apocalypse. The World's End is a satire like the other two films in Wright and Penn's loosely connected trilogy of movies, Shaun of the Dead, which parodied the zombie genre, and Hot Fuzz, a send up of action films. This time, the filmmakers poke a little fun at science fiction. Thanks to their genuine love for the movies they skewer, Wright and Penn raise their films to a higher level than most parody films. The addition of a little subtext strengthens their work, making them solid standalone pictures even if you aren't really a fan of the genre's they reference.

If you haven't seen them yet, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are available through Eisenhower. If you like them, you might also like Spaced, the British sitcom on which Wright and Pegg began to develop their earnest style of satire.

Chris, Marketing

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

Even the wallflowers will move their feet!

Eight years after the release of Human After All, the French electronic duo Daft Punk are back this summer with Random Access Memories, their fourth studio album. Released in May, Random Access Memories has proved to be worth the wait. While the record still holds true to the duo’s musical roots and style, the years in between releases has seemingly allowed them to produce a noticeably more mature, more accessible and perhaps most importantly, a more complete album. While tracks such as Lose Yourself to Dance, Touch and Get Lucky will receive most of the attention and air time, deeper cuts such as Giorgio by Moroder, Within and Instant Crush are (in my opinion) what make the album great.

Find Random Access Memories at Eisenhower


Blood Lust by Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

70s themed purple and black cover with a distressed woman looking up.“I’ll leave you lying at death’s door…”

Up and coming Cambridge, England-based rock band Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are relatively new to the underground rock music scene but you wouldn’t know that by listening to their sophomore LP Blood Lust. Once you hit play, you’re greeted first with the sampled sounds of a mid-20th Century vintage rotary dial television being scrolled through what few channels it picks up with broken bites of dialog, dial clicks and intermittent television static tones. This passage is quickly followed by an abrupt, distorted lead guitar melody which sounds almost as though its notes are sizzling through the overdriven speaker of an old transistor radio and that overall tone in the musical production continues to define the sound of the entire album, bringing the listener back to an earlier time in rock music. That time is roughly somewhere in the 1960’s. The actual music here is a chilling hybrid of down-tuned Black Sabbathesque guitar riffing accentuated by more of a traditional blues-styled beat and topped off with a somewhat modern sense of melody all purified through a production technique that brings to mind the heaviest and loudest cuts of Led Zeppelin II or Fun House by The Stooges. But every riff and theme in the music is always dramatic, giving the listener a sense of urgency or impending doom.  The vocalist sounds like a strung-out and absolutely mad version of John Lennon who chooses to sing in a register that is almost as high-pitched as a male voice can get before breaking into falsetto and is nearly always self-harmonized or double tracked. It’s heavy, it’s noisy, it’s melodic and it’s practically everything that rock music should be presently and should continue to be as we move headlong through the 21st century.

Each of the eight tracks on this album has a unique way of expressing itself despite the somewhat monotonous instrumentation and production. “Death’s Door” is the longest song on the album at nearly seven and a half minutes and has some of the most riveting guitar work I’ve heard in a quite some time. All of the songs exhibit this to some degree, but the way the solos compliment the harmony of the main riffs in this cut truly brings the urgency of the music to life and is only rivaled by album closer “Withered Hand of Evil” which ends with a forlorn string section overlaying the already highly emotive guitar riff. “I’m Here To Kill You” has a lockstep drum and guitar theme which recalls the early and most spastic work of The Mars Volta with incredible drumming acrobatics which retain an excellent groove despite matching the jagged rhythm of the dual guitar chord harmonies. Blood Lust is an album that takes a classic style and imbues it with a very unique personal touch by the musicians who make up Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. It is a challenging and rewarding listen for any music lover but it will mostly appeal to those who crave a raw, vintage and engaging psychedelic rock sound. Blood Lust may put your ears through the ringer upon first listen but once you adjust to it, you’ll be glad you took the beating.

Find Blood Lust at Eisenhower.

Brian, Tech Clerk