Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Weekend Book Pick (1-5 of 5)

Weekend Book Pick: 'Ashfall' by Mike Mullin


The various recent photographs from the set of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (hey Finnick!) have put me in the mood for something dystopian. Of course, there’s no shortage of dystopian books these days, from Veronica Roth’s Divergent to Ally Condie’s Matched to Kat Zhang’s What’s Left of Me. While I’m a fan of many of them, my recommendation this week happens to be the most recent one I picked up.

The Choice: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of The Hunger Games.

What it’s about: What if the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupted? 15-year-old Alex Halprin is home alone when his house is struck by a flying piece of volcanic debris jettisoned over 900 miles from the site of the eruption. The ashfall starts shortly after, blanketing his Iowa home in total darkness. With his family 140 miles away, Alex must journey through the thick ash to find them. But the world is no longer the place it once was and people will do anything to survive…

Why you should read it: For me, there’s nothing more terrifying than apocalypse that could actually happen. Not to say that we won’t be watching kids fight to death in the future, but the supervolcano under Yellowstone is a much more real and immediate threat than the Hunger Games. Mullin is just so good at keeping you on the edge of your seat. Every chapter feels like it ends in a cliffhanger. What I love most, however, is that unlike a lot of dystopian or post-apocalyptic books, Ashfall lets you see the devastation that causes civilization to collapse. A good chunk at the beginning of the novel deals with the natural disaster itself and Mullin’s clearly done his research (as a note at the back of the book explains). When I think of a volcano, I think lava, but Mullin shows you all the other effects — like the noise, the ash and the absolute darkness. Even more frightening is how quickly civilization falls apart. You do not want to read this book alone at night. Bottom line? If you’re a sucker for road trips, cannibals, and boy scout skills, then this is the book for you.

Read more:
Weekend Book Pick: Liked ‘Elementary’? Try ‘The List of Seven’ by Mark Frost
Weekend Book Pick: ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy
Weekend Book Pick: ‘Relic’ by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Weekend Book Pick: Liked 'Elementary'? Try 'The List of Seven' by Mark Frost


In honor of Elementary‘s stellar ratings, this weekend’s reading recommendation will be Sherlock Holmes-based. It’s not canon, but as a fan of the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, I found this book to be true to the spirit of Holmes, just with a supernatural twist.

The Choice: The List of Seven  (1994) by Mark Frost.

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of, well, Elementary, obviously, but also the BBC’s Sherlock or the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series. (Sorry Robert Downey Jr., much as I love you, I can’t include your Sherlock Holmes movies on here.)

What it’s about: This Sherlock Holmes story follows not Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes, but rather Arthur Conan Doyle himself. A poor doctor living in London, Doyle is fascinated by the occult. When a woman asks him to attend a seance, the doctor inadvertently stumbles on a cult of Satanists known as the Dark Brotherhood. Doyle is nearly killed to ensure his silence, but a mysterious man named Jack Sparks comes to his rescue and they team up to unmask a conspiracy that threatens not only London, but the entire world.

Why you should read it: Okay, I realize the plot of The List of Seven sounds like the first RDJ Sherlock Holmes movie, but it’s much more than that (or less, as in less explosions and less slow-mo). This book is surprisingly dark. Sparks, or so Frost tells us, is the inspiration for Doyle’s Holmes character, but that doesn’t mean he’s a carbon-copy of the detective. No, Sparks is much more emotional, much more volatile. He uses Holmes’ same cool reasoning, but he’s not infallible the way the real Doyle’s Holmes was. And that makes for a more interesting story. His past is haunting — readers should beware a reveal towards the middle of the book that is particularly traumatizing — but it gives the tale a sense of immediacy. This faux-Holmes has a much more personal stake in the mystery that’s afoot.

Similarly, Doyle is not the bumbling Watson we see so often in the lesser adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories. He’s a thinking man, one who is capable of getting along well enough without Sparks, but is made a better man when with him. They’re a team, you see. And, like the more modern adaptations of the Holmes stories, The List of Seven is not so much about emphasizing Holmes’ genius as it is about the friendship between two flawed men who are essentially each other’s soul mates. Also: it’s Holmes vs. the supernatural! How can you resist? A warning, though: skip the sequel (The Six Messiahs). It’ll only tarnish the memory of this excellent novel.

FUN FACT: Does the name Mark Frost sound familiar to you? That’s because he created Twin Peaks.

Read more:
Weekend Book Pick: ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy
Weekend Book Pick: ‘Relic’ by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Weekend Book Pick: Miss ‘True Blood’? Try Alaya Dawn Johnson’s ‘Moonshine’

Weekend Book Pick: 'Skulduggery Pleasant' by Derek Landy


Hey, readers! I’m really excited so many of you were Relic fans. Let’s see if we can continue the streak with this week’s pick. Let me offer a quick disclaimer before we start: This book is actually a children’s book, but it doesn’t read like one (aside from the enormous font) so I hope you’ll give it a chance regardless.

The Choice: Skulduggery Pleasant (2007) by Derek Landy.

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of Harry Potter or Grimm. READ FULL STORY

Weekend Book Pick: 'Relic' by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


It’s Saturday morning and that means it’s time for a new Weekend Book Pick. After last week’s vampire novel, we’re going in the opposite direction with a murder mystery. So, let’s get down to it!

The Choice: Relic (1995) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of Jurassic Park.

What it’s about: Two young boys are found dead in the basement of the New York Museum of Natural History just days before the opening of the new “Superstition” exhibit. A string of murders follow, all with the same brutal MO: the back of the skull is bashed in and the victims’ brains are pulled out through the hole. Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta hunts for the killer with the help of a Sherlock Holmes-esque FBI agent by the name of Aloysius Pendergast. As the exhibit opening draws closer, the two investigators must find a way to stop the killer before he goes on a murderous rampage among New York’s elite. But how do you catch a killer who’s not quite human?


Weekend Book Pick: Miss 'True Blood'? Try Alaya Dawn Johnson's 'Moonshine'


It’s hard work to find a good book. A book requires more commitment than either a movie or TV show and picking out the right one takes time. Well, I’d like to do my best to ease that burden. In this new weekly column, I’ll recommend a reading pick based on popular movies, TV shows, or best-selling books. Some of the recommendations will be old, some new, and some in between, but all will be good. I promise!

The choice: Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson

You’ll like this if: You’re a fan of True Blood.

What it’s about: First published in 2010, Moonshine follows Zephyr Hollis, a social activist and part-time speakeasy singer living in New York City in the 1920s. Sounds straightforward, right? But this isn’t your regular ol’ 1920s because Zephyr lives in a past where vampires are out of the coffin and part of everyday (or rather every night) life. When she’s not fighting for vampire rights, Zephyr works as a teacher for the disadvantaged inhabitants of the Lower East Side. Unsurprisingly, being a champion for social justice doesn’t pay well, and when the mysterious Amir offers to pay her to help him locate a vampire mobster, she is unable to turn him down. (The proverbial offer she can’t refuse — that’s right, Moonshine‘s also for fans of The Godfather.)


Latest Videos in Books


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by VIP