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Shelf Life: The Book of Better Endings

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  17 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Young bookseller Cathy Finn is having a bad day. First, there's the assassin's bullet. Then comes the realisation that she's been living in a work of fiction. Worse, she wasn't even the main character.

Cathy's quiet, bit-part life may be over, but her troubles are only beginning. Her last day on Earth is also her first as a citizen of New Tybet. For over four hundred years,
ebook, 338 pages
Published July 17th 2019 by Mirror World Publishing
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  17 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Raymond St.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“This is what it means to be the protagonist; the worlds filled themselves in around you as you moved.”

'Shelf Life's beginning was easy but predictable. We know Finn, quiet shadow to her heroic sister, would outsmart the assassin. She’ll find the inner strength to be the heroine. Oops, no she dies. And no, that’s not a spoiler. Welcome to the ride.

Have you ever pitied the fictional cast-of-thousands at the siege? Identified with the lonely detective’s girlfriend, the cop on his last day before
Alison C
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Back in 2002, I picked up a novel by an author unknown to me based solely on the fact that four very different publications (Time, The Atlantic, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and F&SF) all gave it rave reviews; that book was Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and it was one of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read. Nobody can have that reaction to that book now, as his type of absurdist yet hyper-realistic style is everywhere, but at that time it was a revelation. So when Library Thing’s Earl ...more
Lucinda Elliot
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the favourite pieces of advice to writers about creating tension is : - ‘Torment your protagonist’. And, of course, the said writers often don’t stop there. Sometimes, they kill them off. This is to say nothing of the minor characters. How many of those get bumped off in the average writer’s career?
Rob Gregson’s ‘Shelf Life’ is a highly original and gripping piece of black comedy about the world of narratives, and of what happens to prematurely killed and murdered characters of all sorts
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn by the synopsis of Shelf Life. A person living life in their own reality only to find out they are actually a secondary character in an author's novel? Yes, please!

Poor Cathy aka "Finn" - you can't help but feel for her character. Her life is in danger and when she meets that danger head on, she's pulled out of her life and into another world. She finds out that in her other life she dies even though she's alive wherever her extractors just took her. Finn needs to find a way to get b
Maurice Arh
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the slyest sequel ever written. You could be perfectly happy reading Shelf Life without any knowledge of his earlier books (Unreliable Histories and The Endless Land), but extra treats are in store for those who have.
If you’ve read the blurb you’ll know the premise. Beyond this, it’s a story about taking control of your own narrative combined with a romp through the many worlds of literature. Finn balances her initially unwilling suspension of disbelief against a delight in the idea of,
Jeanette Ford
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having read Mr Gregson's other two books, I expected weird! And it was weird, but in a fascinating way. The imagination of this man always turns to the unusual and I'm always willing to be surprised and amazed by him. A very different sort of story; I liked the characters which were portrayed so well that one could 'see' them easily and know exactly what sort of people they were. Some of the setting was reminiscent of sci-fi but the characters wandered into places that those who are well-read wo ...more
Robert Wingfield
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Superb book, imaginative and amusing. Keeps you from putting it down, so you'll need to read it in one go. Set aside the time.
Cynthia Prosser
Shelf Life was not what I expected, but it was not an unpleasant surprise. I was expecting something along the lines of a cozy but it was an adventure. It turned out to be a book in which the characters of a book are being extracted out of their own, original narrative and installed in a greater, overarching world where they continue to live on in a whole new life. In this particular case Cathy Finn is extracted from her world of family, literature, and running her bookstore into a SciFi/Fantasy ...more
Henri Moreaux
I was provided this novel by the publisher for review.

Shelf Life is certainly a unique novel, and whilst I ordinarily am not a big science fiction/fantasy reader I found the idea of a story set around a protagonist who's not a real person but rather finds out they're merely a character within another book themselves to be a quirky and interesting idea.

Maybe it's due to the fact this isn't a genre I'd typically read, yet I found the beginning to be quite slow and not at all enthralling. Things im
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: indies

I'd never heard of this author before, but we have mutual friends who've recommended this book, so I thought I'd check it out. Glad I did. It poses the question of what if writers really were gods and the worlds they create in their books became real. I love books about books, and this one engaged me until the end. Unfortunately I could never warm up to the protag, and found her annoying and unlikable, but that's just a "me" thing. I imagine everyone else who reads it will love Finn, so I highly
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I got this book for free from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.

The concept was very interesting, but it wasn't executed in a way that made it particularly interesting to me. The idea of death being the beginning and most interesting part of someone's existence is a cool concept and since the main character runs a book store, it seemed perfect for someone who loves books, but it just wasn't really for me.

Parts of the book are definitely interesting and it's a quick read, so think of checking it out
Sharon Stevenson
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelf Life is a highly original humorous fantasy novel. The story is full of witty moments and tension which really dials up the closer it gets to the suitably unpredictable ending. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy comedy.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelf Life is a genuinely original story which has us all acting out roles in novels written by higher level authors - something I've long suspected! When we die the narrative is paused and we are removed to New Tybet - the hub of everything and the home of a fantastic machine that generates gateways between every work of fiction ever written.

When ordinary bookshop owner Cathy Finn’s life comes to a dramatic end she is ‘taken’ to New Tybet where dark forces are at work. Someone is sabotaging the
Cee Jackson
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read a couple of Rob's books now and am deeply impressed!

The writing style makes this a very 'easy' book to read - it comes across in colour is the best way I can describe it. To me, some books are like Maths and Physics were at school. But 'Shelf Life' is most definitely PE (especially football and cross country) English and Geography.

The premise of the story is very clever, and indeed a really interesting and novel concept. (You'll appreciate that comment more when you read the book.) ;
Mirror World
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Rob Gregson spent much of his youth reading fantasy novels, immersing himself in role playing games and generally doing everything possible to avoid life in the real world. In his defence, we're talking about the late 1980s - a time when ridiculous hair, hateful pop music and soaring unemployment were all very popular - so it wasn't altogether a bad decision. However, had he abandoned the realms o ...more

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