Archive for November, 2011

Blankets

November 30, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

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Garden of Beasts

November 30, 2011

Author: Jeffrey Deaver

Title: Garden of Beasts

Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 11 discs

Geographical Setting: New York City, New York; Berlin, Germany; other various

Time Period: 1936

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  When hitman Paul Schumann finds himself caught in a sting set up by New York City police, he recognizes that his luck has run out.  Preparing himself to be tried, jailed and probably executed, Schumann is surprised when he is given a choice: instead of facing the consequences in America, he can work a job for the American government and assassinate a political leader in the burgeoning Nazi government.  When he accepts, Schumann is sent off on a wild and crazy ride through Berlin where he meets local characters, beautiful women, and the most dangerous and evil villains in the world at that time.  Narrated by several characters other than Schumann, including a German police detective hot on Schumann’s heels and the object of Schumann’s assassination plot, the audio book version’s performer Jefferson Mays does a decent job of differentiating between characters and uses accents to provide local color.

Subject Headings: Mafia hitman; Nazi Germany; German Olympics; Adolf Hitler; Jesse Owens; Assassination plot; Detectives; Anti-semitism

 Appeal: Builds in intensity, engrossing, fast-paced, atmospheric, dangerous, dramatic, menacing atmosphere, stark, detailed characters, flawed characters, strong secondary characters, multiple points of view, action-oriented, character-centered, cinematic, investigative, multiple plot lines, plot twists, thought-provoking, detailed setting, historical details, political, unpretentious language, jargon

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Builds in intensity, flawed characters, historical details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

A piece of narrative nonfiction, this title describes the lives of the William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to the Third Reich, and his family as they lived in Berlin during the period before World War II.  Figuring in the story also are the characters of Göring and Goebbels who are featured in Jeffrey Deaver’s novel of almost the same title.

Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld by Howie Carr

This biography of Johnny Martorano, a hitman for the mob tells the story of life for a real hitman.  It also discusses the knowledge of some politicians and the FBI of Martorano’s activities.  This mirrors Schumann’s eventual connection to political and law enforcement organizations as well as giving more information about his line of work.

Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany by Robert Gellately

This title discusses and rejects the idea that the German population as a whole knew nothing about the atrocities committed by Hitler and his minions.  It discusses this point of view using primary sources including case studies and news sources.  Some of the terms and ideas touched on in Garden of Beasts are presented and expounded upon in this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell

The third in a series about German crime reporter Hannah Vogel, this title takes place during the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Berlin, Germany.  This historical mystery shares a time period and setting with Garden of Beasts.

Casino Royale: a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming

This first James Bond novel has 007 taking on the Soviet Union.  It includes many elements similar to Deaver’s Garden of Beasts including adventure, international intrigue and assassins and is written with a fast-paced and suspenseful style.

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block

This novel, written in 1961 tells the story of 5 Americans offered $20,000 to kill Fidel Castro.  The fast-paced suspense story includes multiple plot lines and a suspenseful feel that may appeal to fans of Garden of Beasts.

Name: Christi H.

Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood

November 30, 2011

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Title: Persepolis

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 153

Geographical Setting: Iran

Time Period: 1970s-1980s

Plot Summary: This graphic-novel memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s girlhood inIran during the Cultural Revolution contrasts the universality of the coming-of-age experience with the fear and chaos of life amid war and revolution. Through stark black-and-white illustrations, the hope, terror, and despair of life under the revolution and the daily growth of a bright young girl is conveyed with sensitivity and humor.

 Subject Headings: Iran, Cultural Revolution, Coming-of-Age Stories, Graphic Novels

 Appeal: character-centered, coming-of-age, humorous, atmospheric, thought-provoking, detailed setting, complex, multilayered, introspective

 3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-centered, complex, thought-provoking

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Reading Lolita in Tehran: a Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

This memoir of an English teacher in Tehran and her clandestine book group is a thought-provoking, character-centered, and atmospheric exploration of women’s lives and relationships with each other and with a country that they both love and fear.

Saffron Sky: a Life Between Iran and America by Gelareh Asayesh

Switching between the present, when the author is a mother living in the United States, and the past, when she was a girl in Iran, this memoir explores the growth of one woman as she navigates the complexities of existing within and between cultures.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This coming-of-age memoir of a boy growing up in Wisconsin contemplatively explores American culture, first love, religion, and the difficulties of being different. Like Persepolis, this memoir is told in graphic novel format.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

A coming-of-age novel about an aspiring cartoonist that includes his drawings, this is the story of a boy trapped between two worlds: that of the reservation on which he lives, and the all-white high school he attends.  Bittersweet, thought-provoking, and introspective, this novel will appeal to fans of the tone of Persepolis.

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Another coming-of-age graphic novel, this series of interwoven stories featuring the Monkey King, a sitcom character named Chin-Kee, and the high-school life of the narrator shows the difficulties of coming of age and self-acceptance of a teenager caught between cultures.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

This graphic novel features two cynical, urban teenage girls in eight interconnected stories. Although less introspective than Persepolis, this is the coming-of-age story of two teens whose cynicism and intelligence will remind readers of Marjane.

Name: Shelley

Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic.

November 30, 2011

Author: Bechdel, Alison.

Title:  Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic. 

 Genre:  Autobiographical Graphic Novel; Nonfiction.

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, United States.

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In this autobiographical graphic novel, Alison Bechdel, an author of a long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, draws a darkly funny and emotionally complex picture of her childhood and her coming-out experiences. The central part of this graphic novel focuses on the author’s loving yet ambivalent relationship with his father—a small-town closeted homosexual, a teacher, a funeral-home owner, and an obsessive interior decorator.  The tone of the story ranges from outrageously funny, especially when describing her father’s obsession with house decor, flowers and fashion, to darkly disturbing, when recalling his inappropriate relationships with male students and the effect of his behavior on the author’s mother. The prose is simple, expressive and often filled with references to literary classics, and the art, with its traditional blue, black and white panels, integrates beautifully into a graphically and textually powerful tale of a family marked by love, sadness, repression but also redemption.  For any skeptics of graphic novels, Fun Home should be an example of this format’s potential for expression, beauty and literary value.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novels; Memoir; Coming-Out-Story; Sexual Orientations; Family and Relationships; 1960’s Small Town–Pennsylvania.

Appeal: heartbreaking, darkly funny, thought-provoking, engaging, literary, disturbing, poignant, character-driven, reflective, psychologically complex, moving, witty, uneasy, well-drawn, candid, sympathetic, sexually explicit, family-centered, small-town setting.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: heartbreaking, witty, and literary.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: A compelling and darkly funny tale of an Iranian girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Similarly to Fun Home, it is an autobiographical, character-driven, and textually and visually powerful graphic novel.

2) Epileptic by David B: In this moving graphic novel, the author describes his real-life experiences of growing up with an epileptic brother and how it affected his decision to become a cartoonist.

3) Blankets: an Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson: An autobiographical graphic novel about brothers growing up in a strict, evangelical family and struggling with rivalry, love and doubt.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: the Beauty Supply District by Ben Katchor.  A collection of witty, nostalgic and character-driven graphic strips picturing the experience of Julius Knipl, a real estate photographer, and other mid-century Jewish characters.

2) The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger: A graphic story of a woman who enters a bookmobile that contains every book she has ever read. Like Bechdel’s story, it is character-driven, literary, reflective and stylistically complex

3) Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine:  This graphic novels tells a story of Ben Tanaka, a not entirely sympathetic, twenty-something American-Japanese, searching for his identity and a place in the world by testing sexual, cultural, philosophical and political waters of the contemporary America.

Megan Rosol

The Night Watch (Audio-Unabridged)

November 30, 2011

Author: Waters, Sarah (Narrated by Juanita McMahon)

Title: The Night Watch (Audio-Unabridged)

Genre:  Historical Fiction Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 13 CD Disks

Geographical Setting: London, England

Time period: World War II.

Plot Summary: In this lyrical and structurally complex story, the author describes the atmosphere of the World War II-era London through the experiences of four main characters-Viv, Kay, Helen, and Duncan-and a full set of secondary characters. As the narrative of the book moves backwards from 1947 to 1941, Waters very slowly reveals the details of her characters and their eventual connections through love, hardship and tragedy.  As most of Waters’ books, the story deals with homosexuality and love between women, but it also casts light on the issues of suicide, pacifism, and class and gender roles during that time period. The story does a fine job at showing the physical devastation of the war and the psychological scars caused by betrayal, longing, loss and regret, still the books feels underwhelming when compared to other novels by Sarah Waters.  The backward construction is clever but it also rids the plot of any mystery and greatly slows down the pacing, while the multiplicity of characters decreases their complexity and emotional resonance.  These construction flaws are only underscored by Juanita McMahon’s audio delivery. The narrator tries to differentiate between multiple characters by using different tones and accents but, with a mostly androgynous set of characters, it does not quite work. Also, poor editing and lack of significant pauses make it difficult to keep track of transitions between different people, places and times in the story. Although I am a great proponent of audio books, I feel that this book would be better experienced through reading.

Subject Headings: World War II, 1939-1945 England-London-Fiction; London Bombardment-World War II; Historical Fiction; Psychological Fiction; War Stories; Relationships; Gay and Lesbian Relationships.

Appeal: character-driven, intricately-plotted, relaxed-paced, atmospheric, moody, bleak, compelling, descriptive, lyrical, dark, psychological, uneasy, multiple points of view and plot lines, complex, episodic, layered, historical frame.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: complex, atmospheric, character-driven.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) World War II London Blitz Diary (A Woman’s Revelations Enduring War and Marriage) by Ruby Alice Side-Thompson: An unfiltered account of the destruction and the quality of life during the London Blitz. Also, it is a compelling and dark story of an unhappy marriage, social conventions, and personal loss.

2) London at War, 1939-1945 by Phillip Ziegler: A story about a diverse group of Londoners–men, women, and children, rich and poor, heroes and cowards– living through the London Blitz. Through the use of a rich collection of interviews, diaries, books and newspapers, the author creates a complex and compelling portrait of Londoners during the World War II.

3) Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Man and Women In World War Two by Allan Berube: A comprehensive history of gays’ and lesbians’ involvement in the war, including information on the work opportunities, the relationships, the gender and race relations, and on the impact of the anti-gay laws.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman: A lyrical and complex story about a group of women trying to survive during the first century’s siege of Masada. Similarly to The Night Watch, this novel is rich in historical details, full of diverse characters, layered plot elements, and psychological drama.

2) Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian: A small group of people is fleeing westwards through Europe devastated by World War II. The story is historic in setting, lyrical in language, and addresses similar subject of love and physical and psychological destruction of war.

3) The End of the Affair by Graham Green: Tells a story of an affair during the London Blitz, and the mystery behind the woman’s decision to end the affair. Aside of the similarities in time and setting, the story is also character-driven and deals with relationships and the psychology of love and loss.

Megan Rosol

Asterios Polyp

November 29, 2011

Author: David Mazzucchelli

Title: Asterios Polyp

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 344

Geographical Setting: New York / fictional small town of “Apogee”

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: Asterios Polyp is a middle-aged professor of architecture. When his New York apartment burns down after a lightning strike, he hops on a Greyhound bus and gets off in a middle-America town called Apogee, where he finds employment as an auto mechanic and rents a room in his boss’s house. The story of Asterios’ sudden change in lifestyle is intercut with flashbacks recalling previous episodes in his life including a past marriage, as well as dream sequences and various abstract visual/verbal ideas (including some of Asterios’ theories of architecture) narrated by his unborn twin brother. Although it has an epic sweep, the plot is less important than the intricate and beautiful visual design of the illustrations and the intellectual ideas they convey.

Subject Headings: Architecture; Duality; Romantic relationships; Graphic novels

Appeal:  abstract, character-centered, cerebral, detailed, epic, episodic, humorous, intricate, intellectual, literary, melancholy, quirky, sophisticated, stylistically complex, symbolic, thought-provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: intricate, sophisticated, stylistically complex

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Blankets by Craig Thompson [Autobiographical graphic novel; epic-length, character-centered, literary]

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel [Autobiographical graphic novel; literary, emotionally rich, complex]

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud [Covers the history and theory of comics as an artistic medium]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth by Chris Ware [Sophisticated graphic novel with an intricate visual design, emotionally rich sense of melancholy, literary complexity and symbolism]

Wilson by Daniel Clowes [Graphic novel; character study about a sad middle-aged man on a journey; complex, quirky, humorous]

The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire [Sweeping, character-centered graphic novel; also, both this and Asterios Polyp are by Canadian artists]

Name: Brian W.

Berlin: City of Stones

November 27, 2011

Author: Jason Lutes

Title: Berlin: City of Stones

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 209

Geographical Setting: Berlin, Germany

Time Period: September 1928-May 1st 1929

Series: Berlin Trilogy

Plot Summary: This is the first part of a trilogy that chronicles the lives of several characters as they struggle with their own hopes and dreams along with the larger (and darker) events that are happening around them.  This masterful piece of historical fiction documents the twilight years of the Weimer Republic, as well as the disillusionment of the Germans after World War I and the rise of two different political parties: Communism and National Socialism.  We see how the personal circumstances of some of the characters draw them to one party or another, while others simply try to live out their lives in spite of the events unfolding around them.  The two main characters are Kurt Severing, a cynical and world-weary journalist, and Marthe, a naïve but gifted and insightful art student exposed to the city of Berlin for the first time.  These central figures are only two of the characters who provide and intimate and emotional glimpse into a dark period of history.

Subject Headings: Art students, Journalists, Fascism—Germany, Men/Women relations, Communists, The Twenties (20th Century).

Appeal: Strong sense of place, intricately detailed, dark, compelling, atmospheric, engrossing, historical details, character-driven, cinematic, layered, thought-provoking, sexy, emotional, stirring, vivid.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Compelling, atmospheric, intricately detailed.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman:  For those who are interested in reading more about the Jewish struggle during and after World War II, this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel does a great job describing the horrific story of the author’s parents fight to survive the Holocaust and how the survivor’s children are affected.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: Another nonfiction graphic novel that would appeal to those who like Berlin’s focus on character and its thought-provoking analysis of a society during a specific time in a specific place.  Although this is about the daughter of Marxists growing up in Tehran and therefore has a very different plotline, the historical detail and atmospheric nature of the novel will appeal to those who like these same elements in Berlin.

Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s by Otto Friedrich:  A nonfiction book that profiles some of the “colorful personalities” who contributed to the social, political, and cultural environment of Berlin in the 1920’s.  A good nonfiction crossover that would appeal to those who read this graphic novel and are interested in the history of Berlin, particularly the years between the world wars.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

V For Vendetta by Alan Moore: Although this graphic novel takes place in the future, it will appeal to those interested in totalitarian regimes and the people who fight against them.  Despite its larger meaning, this will appeal to those who like the focus on characters in Berlin as well its bleak and suspenseful elements.

The Golem’s Mighty Swing by James Sturm: A graphic novel that follows a traveling Jewish team in the early days of baseball, this will appeal to those who like the historical elements of Berlin, the Jewish characters in Berlin, as well as the bittersweet appeal that Berlin carries.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton:  A classic novel that envisions a dystopic future.  A good crossover for fiction readers or vice versa.  Despite the sci-fi genre that is very different from Berlin, this is a character-centered and profound story that will grip almost any reader.

Dutch

November 17, 2011

Author: Teri Woods

Title: Dutch

Genre: Urban Lit

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 242

Geographical Setting: New York and New Jersey

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: 1st in the Dutch Series

Plot Summary: Bernard James Jr., better known as Dutch, is a New York drug kingpin, but when the book starts, he’s on trial and it seems like his empire is about crash all around him. As the trial continues, the testimony and a series of flashbacks serve to show Dutch’s rise to power from a teen working at a pizza place to a car thief, and after a stint in prison his eventual transformation into one of the most infamous druglords in the East Coast.

Subject Headings: Gangsters, organized crime, street life, mafia, African-American men

Appeal: fast-paced, dark, gritty, hard-edged, stark, plot-driven, dialect-heavy, compelling, flashbacks, steamy, chilling, flawed characters

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, gritty, flashbacks

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dyson, Michael. “Mercy, Mercy, Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye”. Not quite a biography, Dyson’s book shows how various factors—his abusive father, living in the inner city, cultural racism, religious upbringing, alcoholism and drug abuse—shaped Marvin Gaye into the popstar and man he became. Woods does similar in creating the story of Dutch.

Greene, Robert.  “48 Laws of Power”. Dutch was all about power—who had it, how to earn, it, how to keep it, even during Dutch’s stint in juvie. In this book, Greene discusses the concept of power and creates a series of laws based on popular leaders, such as Machiavelli, Henry Kissinger, Sun-Tzu and Queen Elizabeth. Dutch would probably keep this book on his nightstand.

Moore, Wes. “The Other Wes Moore”. Popular book showing the true-life story of two black men named Wes Moore who grew up on the streets; one ended up in jail, the other was a Rhodes Scholar. Dutch seemed to blame society for his fate, and this book focuses on society’s effects on black inner city youth.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Ashley and JaQuavis. “The Cartel”. The Diamond family is the most infamous drug cartel family in Miami; when Carter dies, his illegitimate son takes over; but a rival group tries to take them down. Like Dutch, Young Carter is a new kingpin that must take on rivals in a gritty urban lit title.

Dickey, Eric Jerome. “Thieves’ Paradise.” Dante Black is a low-level hood, as opposed to Dutch’s far-loftier lifestyle. However, both must deal with betrayal within their circle of friends, ex-lovers, and others in this urban lit book.

Puzo, Mario. “The Godfather.” Although a different sort of gangster in some ways, Dutch probably modeled himself in some ways after Don Corleone, the eponymous Godfather. This is the book that was the basis for the movie, and a classic in its own right.

Name: Brian C

Every Thug Needs a Lady

November 17, 2011

Author: Wahida Clark

Title: Every Thug Needs a Lady

Genre: Urban Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 294

Geographical Setting: New York City and surrounding area

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Thug series, #2

Plot Summary: Roz, a physical therapy student, vows to never get involved with a thug again after her boyfriend of five years cheats on her while he’s in prison. But her plans to stay on the straight and narrow go awry when Trae, her ex-boyfriend’s business partner–who is handsome, powerful, and definitely a thug—tells her he wants to make her his woman.  Being with a thug has its advantages—hot sex and designer clothes among them—but there’s one big problem: Roz wants Trae to leave the lifestyle, and Trae isn’t ready yet.

 Subject Headings: Street life, prisons, man-woman relationships, friendship

 Appeal: gritty, fast-paced, large cast of characters, urban, violent, sexually explicit, strong language, character-driven, romantic, women’s lives and relationships

 3 appeal terms that best describe this book: gritty, urban, sexually explicit

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen by Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez

This memoir of the life of a female gang member is gritty, urban, and a fascinating look at the life of a young woman who makes different choices under similar circumstances to the heroines of Every Thug Needs a Lady.

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez

This memoir of a gang kingpin is incredibly popular and tells an urban, gritty tale of violence, sex, and danger.

Blue Rage, Black Redemption: A Memoir by Stanley Williams

This memoir of the former head of the Crips who went from gang leader to peace activist combines gritty and explicit memories of his gang days with the philosophy and peace protocol he developed while in prison.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Upstate by Kalisha Buchannon

Seventeen-year-old Antonio and his girlfriend, Natasha, write letters back and forth as Antonio is imprisoned for a crime he may or may not have committed.  A moving coming-of-age story as well as an enduring love story, this literary novel features characters with similar lives and backgrounds to those in the Thug series, but with a more ambiguous and bittersweet ending.

Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

This street-lit classic is referenced by the characters in the opening chapter of Every Thug Needs a Lady.  It’s the story of the daughter of a drug lord who takes over her father’s business; and despite the consequences, even the words of her mentor can’t make her give up the lifestyle.

The Sex Chronicles by Zane

This collection of 15 erotic short stories features thugs, the women who love them, and nearly every scenario imaginable—and is also immensely popular with a gritty, urban tone.

 

Name: Shelley

The Heroin Diaries

November 16, 2011

nullAuthor: Nikki Sixx

Title:  The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star

Genre: Arts and Entertainment; Autobiographies (Adult literature); Biography; Memoirs; True Crime

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 413

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: Early 1980’s – Present

Plot Summary:  When Mötley Crüe was at the height of its fame, there wasn’t any drug Nikki Sixx wouldn’t do. He spent days, sometimes alone, sometimes with other addicts, friends, and lovers, in a coke and heroin-fueled daze. The highs were high, and Nikki’s journal entries reveal some euphoria and joy. But the lows were lower, often ending with Nikki in his closet, surrounded by drug paraphernalia and wrapped in paranoid delusions.  Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx shares mesmerizing diary entries from the year he spiraled out of control in a haze of heroin and cocaine, presented alongside riveting commentary from people who were there at the time, and from Nikki himself.

Subject Headings: Sixx, Nikki, 1958-, Motley Crue, Rock musicians — United States – Biography, Drug addicts – Biography, Heroin addicts, Rock music, Drug addiction, heroin addiction

Appeal: Reflective, Candid, relaxed, bittersweet, uncomfortable, edgy, gritty, humorous, introspective, moody, paranoid, sobering, eccentric, insightful, realistic, character-centered, conversational

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Reflective, Candid, humorous

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Everyone loves you when you’re dead: journeys into fame and madness by Neil Strauss

Neil Strauss considers it his job to hang around celebrities, rock gods, porn queens, up-and-coming starlets, and iconic superstars long enough, whether it takes moments or months, to find that minute, the one when the curtain finally falls away and the real person is revealed.  This collection of stories about those moments would be good for any fan of candid memoirs like The Heroin Diaries

Tommyland by Tommy Lee

Co-written with Anthony Bozza, Tommyland is a quick, enjoyable romp through the life of rocker Tommy Lee that sucks you in from the first page.  Anyone interested in the wild times of Motley Crue from a different perspective should pick this up.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Neil Strauss

This is the life of Mötley Crüe, the heaviest drinking, hardest fighting, most oversexed and arrogant band in the world. Their unbelievable exploits are the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend.  The full story of Motley Crue from their beginnings to present day, a must have for rock biography fans.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Glass by Ellen Hopkins

Kristina thinks she can control it. Now with a baby to care for, she’s determined to be the one deciding when and how much, the one calling the shots. But the monster is too strong, and before she knows it, Kristina is back in its grips. She needs the monster to keep going, to face the pressures of day-to-day life. She needs it to feel alive.  The 2nd in a series, a gripping look at one person’s struggle with heroin, a good series for fans of heroin diaries.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

This groundbreaking classic is more compelling than ever for today’s readers. A sensation when it was first published and a perennial bestseller ever since, this real-life diary charts an anonymous teenage girl’s struggle with the seductive, and often fatal, world of drugs.   Another diary style book about the struggles with drugs and what a person goes through to shake the demons.

A hero ain’t nothin’ but a sandwich by Alice Childress

Dope. Smack. Junk. Heroin. No matter what you call it, you can’t change the fact that 13-year-old Benjie is on it. Oh no … he’s not hooked, though. He could stop anytime … really. But why is a young kid like Benjie using at all? A riveting novel about drug abuse, fans of The Heroin Diaries will enjoy this.

Name: Jason Rock