Archive for April, 2012

The Last Templar

April 18, 2012

Author:  Raymond Khoury

Title:  The Last Templar

Genre:  Thriller, Adventure

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  523

Geographical Setting:  United States, Turkey, Greece, Palestine

Time Period:  13th Century, Contemporary

Series:  Sean Reilly Thrillers

Plot Summary:  After witnessing the theft of valuable artifacts on loan from the Vatican, archeologist Tess Chaykin joins with FBI agent Sean Reilly to help track down the thieves and recover the artifacts.  Discovering that one of the artifacts leads to the famed hidden treasure of the Knights Templar, Tess and Sean engage in an adventure -filled treasure hunt across the Mediterranean. The treasure they discover is not what they expect; instead, it is a powerful secret that can change the face of Christianity.  This fast-paced, suspenseful thriller with loads of action will take the reader on an historical adventure that spans eight hundred years.

Subject Headings:  Knights Templar, The Crusades, Archeology, The Vatican, Catholic Church, Christianity, Conspiracies, Cryptography, Treasure Hunting, Women Archeologists

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, dramatic, flashbacks, cinematic, investigative, multiple points of view, multiple plot lines, action-oriented, thought-provoking, historical details, details of The Knights Templar

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, dramatic, fast-paced

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Crusades:  The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land:  by Thomas S. Asbridge-    The Crusades tells the story of the Holy Wars from both the Muslim and Christian perspective.  The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land will appeal to readers interested in the battles of the Templars in The Last Templar.

Discovery!:  Unearthing the New Treasures of Archeology by Brian M. Fagan- Through first-hand accounts, renowned archeologists discuss how their discoveries have helped to mold our understanding of history.  Discovery will appeal to readers who are interested in Tess Chaykin’s profession in The Last Templar.

The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale- The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed utilizes recently discovered Templar inquisition transcripts to provide a more thorough examination of the enigmatic order of medieval knights.  Both The Last Templar and The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed have the Knights Templar as a main topic.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte- When hired to assassinate two Englishmen visiting Madrid, seventeenth -century sword for hire Diego Alatriste finds himself torn between his conscience and fulfilling his contract.  Like The Last Templar, Captain Alatriste is a suspenseful, fast-paced novel rich in historical detail.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown-  While working to solve a murder, a French cryptologist and an American symbologist  uncover secrets that can discredit the traditional beliefs of the Christian Church. Both The Last Templar and The Da Vinci Code are suspenseful, fast-paced novels about the Catholic Church, conspiracies, and cryptography.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne- While investigating the death of a monk, an American journalist becomes entangled if a web of conspiracy involving the Catholic Church.  Like The Last Templar, Sanctus is a dramatic, fast-paced novel filled with conspiracy and nonstop action.

Elissa

Water for Elephants

April 18, 2012

Author: Sara Gruen

Title: Water for Elephants

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: May 1, 2007

Number of Pages: 335

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Great Depression Era

Plot Summary: Jacob Jankowski lives a carefree life, even during a time of great depression for most.  He is about to graduate from Cornell College, join his father’s veterinary business, and has caught the eye of the most beautiful girl in school (to whom he hopes to lose his virginity).  But a deadly car accident, which claims the life of both his parents, flips Jacob’s life upside down.  After the bank seizes his house, Jacob leaves in search of…anything.  In the middle of the night he jumps a train, not knowing that it belongs to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth!  Young Jacob is thrust into a world filled with adventure, romance, and illusion, one that he can still remember years later when he is ninety-something-years-old.

Subject Headings: Circus — Fiction. Depressions — 1929 — Fiction. Circus performers — Fiction. Parents — Death — Fiction. Elephants — Fiction. Circus animals — Fiction. Triangles (Interpersonal relations) — Fiction.

Appeal: bittersweet, romantic, nostalgic, reflective, engaging, richly detailed, multiple perspectives, character-driven, intricately plotted, literary, suspenseful, atmospheric.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: multiple perspectives, romantic, character-driven.

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy, Stewart O’Nan. A historical account of the Hartford circus fire in 1944; a deadly disaster that killed more than 150 people.  A sobering depiction of circus life, and the risks associated with performing and life on the road.
  2. Tell Me Where it Hurts, Nick Trout.  Heartwarming and moving, the author, a veterinary surgeon tells about his experiences working with pets and their owners.
  3. Children of the Great Depression, Russell Freedman.  Through diaries, letters, and other firsthand accounts, the stories of American children affected by the Great Depression during the 1930s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Life of Pi, Yann Martel.  Similarly to Guren, Yann also writes intricately plotted books in which reminiscing in old age in a main topic.  In this book, Pi Patel, a zookeeper’s son, escapes a sinking ship on a life boat with a Bengal tiger.
  2. The Sea, John Banville.  Character-driven and reflective, this book introduces Max Morgen who, after the death of his wife, goes to live town of his childhood in search of peace and solitude.
  3. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos.  Two Cuban brothers form a band in New York during the 1950s.  Their talent brings them to new heights with an opportunity to perform on the I Love Lucy Show.

Name: Erin Shinneman

The Alcoholic

April 18, 2012

Author: Jonathan Ames (writer) & Dean Haspiel (illustrator)

Title: The Alcoholic

Genre: graphic novel

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 136

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Present day

Plot Summary: Jonathan A. became an alcoholic after his very first drink.  At fifteen he was at a party with his best friend Sal when the two got drunk for the first time.  It made him feel confident and cool for the first time in his life.  From then on he would spend every weekend drinking and vomiting.  He learned to use the weekdays to recover and prepare for another binge.

The Alcoholic is the self-narrated story of two and a half decades of Jonathan A.’s life of alcoholism and sobriety.  The story centers on Jonathan’s character and the interpersonal relationships that are all encompassing in his life.  Jonathan puts all of himself into a small number of these relationships, all of which end sooner than he expects. The pain of separation drives him back to alcohol and drugs over and over again.  Jonathan repeats the process of self hatred and self repair that he began as a teenager throughout the rest of his life.  Although Jonathan grows to understand this process, it is not clear if he will ever overcome it. The book is illustrated in a realistic black and white style, which adds to the gritty and melancholy tone of the book.

Subject Headings: alcoholics – fiction, New York – fiction, graphic novels, September 11, 2001 – fiction, fictional memoirs

Appeal: addiction, character centered, urban setting, novelists, alcoholism, realistic art, 9/11, rehabilitation, failed relationships, therapy, family deaths, gritty, bleak, dark, melancholy, explicit, candid, disturbing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: melancholy, character centered, addiction

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Alcohol addiction, recovery, and relapse are at the center of this memoir.  This book shares an urban New York setting with The Alcoholic.

American Widow by Alissa Torres (author) and Sungyoon Choi (Illustrator)

This autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Alissa Torres’s struggles with the loss of her husband, Eddie.  Eddie was killed on 9/11, the second day at his new job.  This graphic novel shares the time and place setting of New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic

In this candid memoir, Scoblic documents her life of addiction and recovery. Her addiction began in high school and followed her through college and her early adult life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Filthy Rich by Brian Azzerello (writer) and Victor Santos (illustrator)

This bleak and gritty graphic novel is set in New York City.  Richard Junkin was a failed pro-football player and now a failed car salesman.  Things only go downhill from there after Junkin takes a new job as a bodyguard.  The black and white realistic illustrations add to the gritty tone of this noir-style graphic novel.

Richard Stark’s Parker: the Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (writer, illustrator) and Richard Stark (author)

This graphic novel is a gritty and bleak adaptation of Richard Stark’s crime novel Hunter.  The story is set in New York City in the 1960s.  The dual toned artwork sets a dreary and melancholy mood.

Blame by Michelle Huneven

This novel tells the story of Patsy MacLemoore’s guilt over the tragic results of her alcohol addiction.  This addiction story centers on themes of guilt and redemption.

Name: Noel M.

Dear John

April 18, 2012

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Title: Dear John

Genre: Romance, historical fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: Audio book – 8 CDs

Geographical Setting: North Carolina, Iraq

Time Period: From late 1990s to 2007

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: John Tyree, a rebel turned responsible army soldier, meets the girl of his dreams on a short furlough from active duty. While courting each other, John and Savannah Lynn Curtis quickly realize that they may have found the greatest love of their lives. However, their long-distance relationship puts major strains on them – more than either could have imagined. John must ultimately choose between serving his country in the aftermath of 9/11 and settling down peacefully with his newfound love. Passionate and bittersweet, this novel will have readers questioning both their personal definitions of love, and what it means to truly love another.

Subject Headings: Love – Meanings, True love, Military life, 9/11, Habitat for Humanity, Cancer, Sacrifices, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Horses, North Carolina, Iraq

Appeal: Compelling, engrossing, densely written, detailed (characters), familiar (characters), intriguing secondary (characters), introspective (characters), layered, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, contemporary, details of army life, heartwarming, nostalgic, romantic, timeless, conversational, graceful, thoughtful

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, thought-provoking, romantic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1). Horses Never Lie About Love: A True Story by Jana Harris – This story tells of a physically and emotionally scarred horse, True Colors, who is terrified of humans, but that eventually learns to live peacefully and love both humans and a new foal in her life. Readers may be interested in this testimony to the power and meanings of love in the life of a majestic and passionate creature.

2). Surviving Iraq: Soldiers’ Stories by Elise Forbes Tripp – A collection of candid tales from 30 soldiers who have served in Iraq in recent years. Honest and bittersweet, these stories tell memories from the lips of those who have served – uncensored and in full.

3). The House That Love Built: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing by Bettie B. Youngs – The story of the founders of Habitat for Humanity, the world’s largest nonprofit homebuilding organization. This text will resonate with readers who are inspired by this organization and its mission to end homelessness and substandard housing through God’s love and the love of his people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1). A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans – This is the tale of a young woman who has become disgusted and nearly given up on finding romance in her life. While on vacation in Europe, Laura Foster meets the owner of a castle estate and unknowingly embarks on a new, and perhaps forever, romance.

2). In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor – This historical fiction work tells the tale of the collapse of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania dam in 1889. Though this event actually occurred, this story is fiction. Through this book, the author tells the stories of several different characters who live during this time, and who have vastly differing points of view. A bittersweet tale of love and destruction.

3). Look Back All the Green Valley by Fred Chappell – A nostalgic look at historical life in North Carolina with a man who is struggling with the deaths of his parents, and ultimately moving on in life. Jess Kirkman is amazed when he finds secret treasures among his father’s personal items that invite him to learn so much more about the man that had raised him.

Name: Melissa

The Calling of the Grave

April 18, 2012

nullAuthor:  Simon Beckett

Title:  The Calling of the Grave

Genre:  Suspense, Audiobook

Publication Date:  February 2011

Number of Pages:  336, 9 hrs and 54 mins

Geographical Setting:  England

Time Period:  Eight years ago and present

Series (If applicable):  Dr. David Hunter series (book 4)

Plot Summary:

Eight years ago, forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter was helping the police attempt to locate the bodies of two teenage girls.  The man who confessed to and was convicted for their murder, Jerome Monk, was brought out of prison in order to help the police locate the burial site.  When Monk’s involvement ends in violence, the search is called off.  In the intervening eight years, David’s life has changed in ways that he couldn’t have imagined, but he’s shocked when the lead investigator in the missing girl’s case shows up on his doorstep to tell him that Jerome Monk has escaped from prison and might be targeting people involved in the previous investigation.  Quickly following that, a call from a woman he briefly met on the investigation eight years prior involves David in a quest to locate the murderer and ensure the safety of himself, Sophie, and anybody else involved in the investigation.  The narrator, Jonathan Keeble, gives the audiobook the appropriate sense of foreboding and helps to drive this suspenseful, fast-paced story to its conclusion.

Subject Headings:

Forensic anthropologists — Fiction.

Murder — Investigation — Fiction.

England — Fiction.

Hunter, David (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Detective and mystery stories.

Serial murder investigation–Fiction.

Appeal:  fast-paced, chilling, darker, menacing atmosphere, plot-centered, violent, straightforward, evocative setting, investigative, plot twists, suspenseful, foreboding, gritty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  fast-paced, suspenseful, violent

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist–William R. Maples:  This book gives the reader insight into the real experiences of a man in the same field as David Hunter.

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing–Kate Colquhoun:  This true story is a suspenseful murder story set in England, with the extra bonus of historical accuracy.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders–Vincent Bugliosi:  This true crime book describes how Charles Manson made his followers commit murder, the investigation, and the ensuing trials.  This is a gritty, faced-paced book with a menacing tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Flesh and Bones—Kathy Reichs:  Like David Hunter, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist investigating murders in this series of suspenseful, fast-paced novels.

Private—James Patterson:  This is another fast-paced suspense novel, but the investigator in this book is dealing with cold cases, like David Hunter does in this book.

Dead End—Leigh Russell:  Another novel that is a part of a series, this suspense story also takes place in small-town England, features violence against women, and serial killers.

Name:  Amanda

Casanova: The Venetian Years

April 18, 2012

Title: Casanova: The Venetian Years

Author: Giacomo Casanova (Author), Benedict Cumberbatch (Reader)

Genre: Nonfiction, Audiobook

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: N/A

Geographical Setting: Italy

Time Period: 1725-1798

Plot Summary: The story of Giacomo Casanova, scholar, adventurer, traveler, soilder and political ally, yet he is more often known for his womanizing  ways, which has made the name “Casanova”  synonymous for a charismatic womanizer. The audiobook version is read by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch whose calm and snarky voice really adds to the humor of the story, as well as being very deep and charismatic, which adds to the more racy scenes. His reading of the story only adds more dimension to the tale, rather than taking anything away.

Subject Headings:

Adventure and Adventures – Biography
Courts and Courtiers – Biography
Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798.
Europe – History – Biography

Appeal: engrossing, leisurely-paced, atmospheric, chatty, passionate, smart, graceful, historical details, intimate, political, cinematic, sexually explicit, romp, emotionally charged, playful,

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Sexually explicit, passionate, cinematic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre-Ambrois-Francois Choderlos de Laclos

Aristocrats and ex-lovers Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring fun to their lives. They challenge each other to seduce others until their lives begin to spin out of control.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists – Neil Strauss

Author Neil Strauss goes undercover into a secret world where he is taught the art of being a pick up artist. This book covers the two year span in which Strauss trained to be a pick up artist, as well as his highs and lows as one and helpful tips on how to seduce the opposite sex.

Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People – Joseph O’Connor

For those who might not be interested in Casanova’s romantic skill but rather his ability to manipulate and coerce people into doing his bidding. An interesting read for anyone who wishes to figure out how to use their understanding of other people in order to get ahead in life and business.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

One Last Look – Susanna Moore

Moving to an English settlement in Calcutta, India in the 1830s, Ladies Eleanor & Harriet expect to hate their time there but instead find a new life full of seduction and exotic cultures and men.

Goddess of the Hunt – Tessa Dar

A steamy historical romance in which our main character, Lucy Waltham attempts to seduce her brother’s best friend while trying to get a different man to marry her. She must choose which man is better suited to her adventurous spirit and passionate hidden life.

Terrorist – John Updike

A seduction of another kind. Eighteen-year-old Ahmad, the son of an Irish-American mother and Egyptian father, finds himself rejecting the capitalist and obsessive society around him. He becomes drawn to the teachings of Islam and along the way finds himself pulled into a terrorist plot.

Name: Courtney Rose

Drinking at the Movies

April 18, 2012

Author: Julia Wertz

Title: Drinking at the Movies

Genre: Adult Graphic Novel, Biography

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 187

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Spring 2007 – New Year’s Eve 2008

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Julia Wertz is a twenty-four year old comic-book artist. Bored with San Francisco she finds herself making a bold decision by moving to New York. Using illustrations and journal-like writing, Drinking at the Movies is chronicle of Julia’s coming-of-age in New York. In an informal and friendly tone, Julia shares the story of moving away from home, trying to hold on to low-paying jobs, and living in four different apartments. She acknowledges and illustrates the more serious parts of her life, like her brother’s drug addiction, family illnesses, and her own drinking problem with humor. Julia’s introspective look at her behavior and her youthful rebellious approach to life and search for identity make this graphic novel an amusing and quick read.

Subject Headings: New York, Cartoonist, Identity, Coming-of-Age,

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, well-drawn, familiar, quirky characters, accessible, simple drawings, unpretentious, contemporary, do-it-yourself, linear story, attention to detail, informal, introspective, character-driven, first-person point of view, playful, artistic.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: humorous, fast-paced, simple drawings.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Life in a Jugular Vein by Ben Snakepit – Ben Snakepit writes autobiographical, humorous comic-strip style graphic novels. He records every day of his life in three frames, and gives each strip the a song of the day. Ben writes and draws about the monotony of his job, going on tour, trying to be a grown-up, punk rock, and drugs and alcohol. His characters are realistic and the language is accessible and simple.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince – Liz Prince writes an autobiographical graphic novel in a comic book style. She uses humor and illustrations to document her own coming-of-age and the relationship she is in.

Zinester’s Guide to NYC by Ayun Halliday – A zinester’s guide to New York City explores the area where Julia lived in and worked in. Similar to Julia’s Do-It-Yourself style, Zinester’s Guide to NYC is the work of over twenty people that have contributed to pages like “Pizza!” to give the reader an in-depth, real-life look at the city.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gingerbread Girl by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin – A coming of age story set in a city, Annah a twenty-somethings female in a big city is depicted in graphic novel format. Her friends, ex-boyfriends, and animals help to narrate her story for her in a witty attempt to find Annah’s identity.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – This humorous fiction graphic novel is a coming of age story about a man in his 20s. His girlfriend left him for New York, and he is left in Berkeley searching for his identity.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser – A linear story told with inserts of illustrated zines and letters, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing features a young man’s coming of age story. Fast-paced and humorous, the main character (Elliot) searches for meaning and his own identity in a punk house in D.C.

name: Jaymie

Caramelo

April 18, 2012

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: Caramelo

Genre: Best-Selling Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 449

Geographical Setting: Chicago & Mexico City

Time Period: Modern

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  Caramelo is a character-driven and descriptive novel about a young girl struggling to find herself amidst her huge family.  Celaya (“Lala”) Reyes, the youngest and only girl among seven children, is a young Mexican American living in Chicago.  Each year, her entire family drives from Chicago to Mexico City to visit her ‘Awful Grandmother.’  This year, Celaya is determined to figure out what makes her grandmother so awful.   She sets out to tell the tales of her ancestors, and understand exactly where she came from.

Weaving historical detail with lyrical prose, Cisneros has created a classic coming-of-age novel.   Mixing past with present, and filled with humor, sadness, and a lot of love, Caramelo is sure to please readers from all walks of life.

Subject Headings: Family Relationships; Girls; Grandmothers; Grandparent and child; Mexican-American families; Mexican- Americans; Mexicans in the United States; Women; Family Histories; Immigrants; Hispanics, Mexico City Mexico, Chicago Illinois

Appeal: Descriptive, Character-Driven, Lyrical, Reflective, Humorous, Moving, Atmospheric, Engaging, Intricate, Historical, Cultural, Well-Developed

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Character-Driven, Reflective, Atmospheric

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

From Out of the Shadows (by Vicki L Ruiz): This work is a comprehensive look at the history of Mexican-American women in the twentieth century.  Combining personal stories and interviews with her narrative, the author seeks to showcase how Mexican-American women went about finding their own place in America.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Caramelo for its intricate look at the history of Mexican-American women in one family.

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (by John Ross): This is a vibrant and gritty history of Mexico City.  The author, a journalist who has inhabited Mexico City for over three decades, tells the history and secrets of the his favorite city.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the location of Caramelo, and wish to know more about the historical background of the city where the majority of the novel took place.

Gabriel’s Fire: A Memoir (by Luis Gabriel Aguilera): This is a young man’s account of growing up an immigrant in the inner city of Chicago.  He touches on what it is like to grow up as a minority in America—all the while attempting to counter mainstream prejudices about Latino culture.  This work will appeal to readers who enjoyed reading about the life and struggles of immigrants living in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Chicano (by Richard Vasquez): This novel follows the lives of four generations of a Mexican-American family who immigrated to the United States as a result of the Mexican Revolution.  This work will appeal to those who enjoyed reading an intricate family history of Mexican immigrants.

All the Pretty Horses (by Cormac McCarthy): This novel is about a man who flees to Mexico with some companions after his grandfather’s death.  This novel will appeal to readers who enjoyed the writing style of Caramelo.  Both novels are character-driven, atmospheric, and lyrical.  In addition, both are considered adult books for young adults, as well as coming-of-age literary fiction.

Gilead (by Katherine Howe): In this novel, the main character discovers multiple family secrets when she is forced to go through the possessions in her late grandmother’s home.  She uses the various items she finds to weave a tale of her grandmother’s life (leading all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials!) Readers of Caramelo will likely enjoy this work because the plot of each novel revolves around characters uncovering family secrets, as well as retelling the pasts of their grandmothers.

Name: Katie Midgley

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.

Stitches

April 18, 2012

Author: David Small

Title: Stitches

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: Detroit

Time Period: 20th Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Stitches is David Small’s memoir of his troubled childhood, done to great effect in graphic novel form. From his earliest memories Small recounts the tension and emotional turbulence he felt as he grew up with a disturbed and withholding mother and distant father. Sickly as a child, his radiologist father treated his sinus-related illnesses with countless x-rays, a common practice at the time. As he grew older, a long untreated growth on his neck turned out to be cancer, although his parents withheld this information, and he lost his thyroid and a vocal chord in the surgery that ensued. The emotional and evocative illustrations throughout invoke a dark moodiness to the book, and the lack of color only adds to the bleak tone. Small’s tale is a complicated one, but he finds relief and escape in his art. Compelling and ultimately moving, Stitches speaks volumes with few words.

Subject Headings: Child cancer patients, Family Secrets, Mute boys, Throat cancer, Mother and Son, Father and Son.

Appeal: character driven, compelling, thought-provoking, moody, bleak, disturbing, moving, unique, emotional, well-paced, secretive, tense, unsentimental

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  compelling, moving, and bleak

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Fun Home—Alison Bechdel: A similarly dark and moody graphic novel memoir of a difficult childhood and finding salvation through art. Bechdel’s story of her relationship with her troubled father is moving, and at times humorous.

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father—Augusten Burroughs: Another dark memoir, detailing the psychological cruelty of Burroughs’ father, A Wolf at the Table eloquently describes his deeply dysfunctional family and his place in it.

Epileptic—David B.: Unsentimental and compelling, Epileptic is the story of how a boy’s disease affects an entire family, and how it led his brother into cartooning.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

After Ever After—Jordan Sonnenblick: Encouraged by a third friend, teenagers Jeff and Tad make a pact to help each other overcome their cancer treatments before graduation.

A Family Matter—Will Eisner: A moody graphic novel, A Family Matter finds a group of family members at a birthday celebration, whose conversations reveal troubled pasts, secrets, and contention.

Sharp Objects—Gillian Flynn: An impressively dark novel of twisted family secrets, Munchausen-by-proxy, serial murder, dysfunctional relationships, journalism.

Name: Laura