Archive for July, 2012

Lady Be Good — Susan Elizabeth Phillips

July 31, 2012

Author:  Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title:  Lady Be Good

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  1999

Number of Pages:  372

Geographical Setting:  Texas (primarily Dallas and Wynette, a fictional suburb of Austin)

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  Third book in the Wynette, Texas series

Plot Summary:  Lady Emma Wells-Finch—the prim, proper, and prudish headmistress of an English all-girls boarding school—is in a most unfortunate engagement to the despicable Duke of Beddington who threatens to close Emma’s beloved school if she does not agree to marry him.  Unable to turn him down, she has no other alternative but to get the Duke to call off the wedding by convincing him that he grossly misjudged her character.  Under the pretense of conducting research, Emma flies to Texas with the intention of ruining her good name through ten days of defamation and debauchery.  Only one person stands in her way: Kenny Traveler, Texas’ hottest and most (in)famous bad boy pro-golfer. Recently suspended by the PGA after his involvement in a series of scandals, Kenny is doing his darnedest to stay out of the tabloids so he can get back into the game.  So when Kenny is hired to assist Emma in her “research,” their opposing agendas—not to mention their innate attraction towards one another—puts more than a few roadblocks in their plans.  Lady Be Good is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that is both sensual and sentimental, and is an excellent starting point for those new to the romance genre.  Phillips’s witty prose is engaging and full of juicy descriptive details sure to please almost any romance reader looking for something light, quick, and humorous.

Subject Headings:  British in Texas; professional golfers; PGA tour; love stories; headmistresses; blackmail; chauffeurs

Appeal: character driven, descriptive, detailed setting of Texas, dialogue rich, engaging, familiar characters, fast paced, funny, recognizable characters, sensual, steamy, sympathetic characters

3 terms that best describe this book:  Romantic comedy, sensual, and descriptive

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Bud, Sweat, and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour by Alan Shipnuck

Alan Shipnuck provides a thoroughly detailed, no-holds-barred inside look at what really goes on during the PGA Tour, both on and off the golf course.  This title is suggested to readers especially interested in learning more about the golfing aspects of Lady Be Good.

2)  My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler

The always irreverent and bawdy Chelsea Handler relates a number of funny sexual encounters from her life.  Suggested for readers who enjoyed the steamy and scandalous sections of Lady Be Goodbut are looking for something more salacious.

3)  Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

This collection of essays from Candace Bushnell’s popular column in the New York Observer provides humorous and touching insights into the dating and sexual lifestyles of Manhattan’s upper and middle classes.  Suggested to readers who enjoyed the funny and steamy elements of Lady Be Good, but are looking for more general insights into men and women relations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

When Minerva Dobbs discovers that her new admirer, David Fisk, had bet his friends $10,000 that he can get her into bed within a month, she figures she can play him, use him as a date for her sister’s wedding, and dump him before the month ends.  Like Lady Be Good, Crusie’s Bet Me is a hilarious contemporary romance featuring an appealing and engaging cast of characters.

2)  Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Former B-movie actress Chelsea Ross is in desperate need of work, so when she is offered $10,000 to be the personal assistant to former hockey star Mark Bressler, she eagerly accepts the position despite her employer’s cantankerous disposition.  Nothing but Trouble is a funny and amusing contemporary romance between a strong female character and a professional sports player that readers of Lady Be Good may enjoy.

3)  Texas Bride by Joan Johnston

A historical romance set in late 19th-century Texas, Miranda Wentworth is forced to become a mail-order bride when the Chicago orphanage where she lives kicks her and her siblings out and marries Jake Creed, a failing Texas ranch owner struggling with the memory of his late wife.  Texas Bride is suggested to readers looking for a romance novel with a heavier western theme that is more serious in tone than Lady Be Good.

Name:  Zach Musil

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The End of Everything

July 31, 2012

Author:  Megan Abbott

Title:  The End of Everything

Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  246

Geographical Setting:  Midwest suburb

Time Period:  1980’s

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s best friend, Evie, disappears and Lizzie was the one to see her last.  Slowly Lizzie starts remembering key clues, like the suspicious car that turns out to belong to a local business man who is also missing.  It seems that Evie was kidnapped; but as Lizzie remembers more and more, it seems that maybe Evie has run away…Evie’s sister, Dusty, seems to be hiding something too.  Meanwhile, Lizzie spends more and more time with Evie’s dad, whom she has a crush on.

Subject Headings:  Teenage girls-fiction; Best friends-fiction; Missing persons-fiction.

Appeal:  Evocative, deliberate pace, character-driven, suspenseful, compelling, atmospheric, insightful, introspective, person point of view, atmospheric, creepy.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Evocative, moody, and suspenseful.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Preventing Sibling Rivalry: Six Strategies for Building a Jealousy-free home by Sybil Hart

A child psychologist has tips for parents of how to help siblings interact positively.

Memory, History, Forgetting by Paul Ricouer

The philosophy and history of personal memory and recollection.  Ricouer examines the reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects the perception of historical experience.  Refers to Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and other philosophers.

Finding Runaways and Missing Adults by Robert L. Snow

Published in 2012, this discusses the runaway problem in America. Snow reveals to readers the process the police use when trying to locate missing people, and information that readers can then use to locate their own missing loved ones. Uses real stories and first hand accounts,

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

A girl murders her best friend-turned-enemy on the English Island of Guernsey.  Her situation parallels her uncle, who has WWII secrets.  The story jumps back and forth from the present to the Nazi occupation.

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

Lauren and her brother were children when their mother was murdered and their father was convicted of murdering her.  Now in her adulthood, Lauren’s brother, who always said their dad was innocent, vanishes.

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Dr. Sheila Tao is a recovering sex addict, but after the death of her father she suffered a relapse and had a torrid affair with her teaching assistant/ student Ethan Wolfe, but decides to break it off because she is getting married.  but Ethan doesn’t handle the breakup well, and threatens to share a sex video of the couple together, which can ruin her career and her engagement.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

The Body in the Library

July 30, 2012

Author: Christie, Agatha

Title: The Body in the Library

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date: 1941

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting:  St. Mary’s Mead and Danemouth, England

Time Period: 1920s

Series (If applicable):  Miss Marple series #3

Plot Summary:  A body is discovered in Colonel and Mrs. Banrdry’s home library.  Mrs. Bandry instantly knows she needs to bring in her good friend and amateur sleuth, Miss Jane Marple.  By linking people and situations from her town of St. Mary’s Mead to the people and situations of the murder, Miss Marple is able to unravel the mystery a step ahead of the police.

Subject Headings:  Mystery—Fiction, England—Fiction, Women Detectives

Appeal:  Builds in Intensity, Easy to Read, Humorous, Engaging Characters, Intriguing, Multiple Points of View, Series (Characters), Conclusive, Investigative, Plot Twists, Rural, Classic, Clever

3 terms that best describe this book:  Clever, Investigative, Plot Twists

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale (2008)

This book provides an account of the murder that started the modern fascination with detection and nearly ruined the career of one of Scotland Yard’s best inspectors, Jonathan Wincher.

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran (2009)

A look into the notebooks, letters, and drafts that Christie’s daughter, Rosalind kept after her mother’s death.  The book includes two unpublished Poirot short stories.

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (1977)

Agatha Christie’s autobiography tells the story of how she became one of the most celebrated detective writers of all time.  The book delves into her life from childhood until her 70s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

Mma Precious Ramotswe is a local sleuth in her town in Botswana.  If Miss Marple were fat, jolly, and African, she and Precious would be nearly identical.  Precious solves small cases that mirror human nature.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

If Miss Marple is the most famous female detective, then surely Sherlock Holmes is the most famous male.  He can deduce just about anything about anyone.  This collection has some of his most famous cases, all chronicled by Dr. John Watson.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003)

After World War I, Maisie Dobbs becomes a private investigator.  Her first case seems to be one of infidelity, but soon she begins to uncover much darker secrets about the war and herself.

Name: Erin Sloan

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

July 30, 2012

Author: Douglas Adams

Title:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1979

Number of Pages:  216

Geographical Setting:  Earth, various other planets and spaceships

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable):  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series Book #1

Plot Summary:

With only seconds to spare before the world ends, undercover alien Ford Prefect saves his best friend and himself from annihilation. As the aliens known as Vogons destroy the Earth, Ford and Arthur Dent become galactic hitchhikers on a Vogon ship.  Eventually the two travelers meet up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend Trillion, a woman Arthur tried to pick up at a party once, and a depressed robot named Marvin.  They travel across space and time, learning about the mysteries of the universe (like where all the ballpoint pens go).

Subject Headings:  Science—Fiction, Interstellar Travel, Interplanetary Voyages,

Appeal:  Fast -Paced, Clever Language, Sarcastic, Humorous Tone, Suspenseful, Multiple Points of View, Quirky Characters, Multiple Plot Lines, Plot-Driven, Imaginative, Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Well-Crafted, Witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Quirky Characters, Witty

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Megacatastrophes! by David Darling and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (2012)

Chronicles nine bizarre ways the world could suddenly end and how likely those endings are.

The Living Cosmos by Chris Impey (2007)

A study in astrobiology and how it leads to a better understanding of humanity’s place in the universe.

The Space Tourist’s Handbook by Eric Anderson and Joshua Piven (2005)

Details of the voyages made by wealthy tourists going to the International Space Station.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Malachi Constant is given the opportunity to travel the universe with a beautiful woman, who happens to be another man’s wife.  The woman’s husband, Winston Niles Rumfoord, has other plans and the trip does not turn out as any of them expect.  Similar because

Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor

All Lister wants to do is get home to Earth, so he boards the Red Dwarf, a ship that will travel to Earth in six or seven years.  Soon he finds himself three million years in the future and the only surviving member of the human race.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

After rescuing a girl named Door, Richard Mayhew finds himself in London Below, a completely new world of magical creatures both good and evil.  Richard and Door begin a quest to save the world.

Name: Erin Sloan

Ready Player One

July 30, 2012

Author:  Ernest Cline, Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton

Title:  Ready Player One

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date:  August 16, 2011

Number of Pages:  Hardcover – 372 pages; Audiobook — 13 discs (15 hr., 41 min.)

Geographical Setting:  OASIS, a virtual reality/internet utopia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio.

Time Period:  Future, the year 2045

Plot Summary:  In Ernest Cline’s fun first novel, past and future collide in a geeky and nostalgic quest for the ultimate prize.  In the year 2045, the word is very bleak, and like most of humanity, 17 year-old orphan Wade Watts, lives most of his life plugged into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual reality and internet utopia, where anyone can be whoever they want to be.  OASIS creator, James Halliday, suddenly dies and it is revealed that not only is there no heir to his fortune, but that there are now three keys hidden somewhere in the OASIS.  Whoever finds the keys and solves their accompanying riddles first, inherits Halliday’s wealth as well as total control over the OASIS itself.  Halliday’s riddles and each of their clues are based on his favorite pop culture of the late 20th century, especially the 1980’s.   After years of no discovery of even the first key, Wade manages to become the first one to do so. He instantly becomes the most famous person (in the form of his avatar named, Parzival) in the world, relaunches a frenzy of competition for Halliday’s prize, and becomes the target of IOI, an evil corporation that is not only vying for control of the OASIS, but that is also willing to commit murder in the real world to do so.

Subject Headings:  Regression (Civilization), Virtual reality, Utopias, Puzzles

Appeal: accessible, earnest, cinematic, contemporary, detailed setting, fast paced, humorous, quirky, urban, jargon, sympathetic, lighthearted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Nostalgic, Richly-detailed, Action-packed

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to defeat an invading alien race, young Ender Wiggin, is recruited to fight in the ultimate war, where the line blurs between games and battle.  Both novels take place in the future and involve young protagonists who must use gaming skills to protect the world.

2)    For the Win by Cory Doctorow

      In a dystopian future, poor teenagers and children are forced by corporations to work in massive multi-player online games to mine for valuable objects.  In order to escape from slavery, the kids plot their escape.  Both novels are about teenagers squaring off against evil corporations in a virtual, online environment.

3)    Jennifer Government  by Max Barry

      Set in a comically dystopian future where corporations own entire continents and force their employees to take on the names of companies as their last names.  Both novels have comedic tones and writing styles, as well as the fact that both satirize today’s Corporate America.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die edited by Tony Mott

      A huge portion of Ready Player One deals with video gaming history and culture, and this immense reference book is a thorough guide for the uninformed.

2)    VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s by Hal Leonord Corp.

      Ready Player One also deals with a ton of 1980’s pop culture, especially music.  This book lists the decade’s top songs.

3)    The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

      Based on various statistics, interviews, and observations, the author predicts what the world will be like in the next 40 years.  Ready Player One takes place in 2045, and the above book makes a nice companion to Cline’s novel.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feed

July 30, 2012

 Author: M.T. Anderson

Title: Feed

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: Earth

Time Period: Future

Plot Summary: In a futuristic society where information is fed directly into the brain, a group of teenagers are enjoying themselves until one of their brain feeds malfunctions. The “feed” is an internet connection tied directly to the brain that gives immediate access to information, communication, and advertisements. Deeper meanings of existence are explored with overarching themes of over abundance of technology, consumerism, instant gratification, corporate empowerment, and disregard of environment. This compelling novel is a thought-provoking tale set in a dark and futuristic society. Although it starts out in a more measured pace as you get to know the characters, it builds in intensity towards the ending.

Subject Headings: Computers and civilization, Consumerism, Environmental degradation, Consumers, Teenagers

Appeal: compelling, builds in intensity, bleak, dark, chilling, contemplative, humorous, character-centered, issue-oriented, thought –provoking, disturbing, serious, high drama, tragic, engaging plot

3 terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, compelling, chilling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Future Tech: From Personal Robots to Motorized Monocycles by Charles Piddock – If you liked reading about the futuristic technology in the book Feed, you might enjoy this book that explores the future of technology.

2.    America in the Twenty-First Century by Opposing Viewpoints Series- If you enjoy reading books that provoke thought and contemplation, you may like this book of essays told through various viewpoints.

3.    Endangered Earth by Scientific American Cutting-Edge Science – If reading Feed made you wonder about how people are affecting our environment and possible ways they can lessen their effects, then you may enjoy this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington – If you like reading compelling and thought provoking books that are set in the future, you may enjoy this story about a boy who starts to question his own beliefs.

2.      Rash by Pete Hautman – You may like this book if you enjoy reading dark, futuristic novels with a humorous edge set in the United Safer States of America.

3.      The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – If you liked the compelling world-building nature of Feed, you may also enjoy this bleak and suspenseful story.

Name: Patty Prodanich

Jurassic Park

July 30, 2012

Author: Crichton, Michael

Title: Jurassic Park

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages: 399 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple Locations in the United States and Costa Rica

Time Period: 1989

Series: Has a sequel, The Lost World

Plot Summary: In this thrilling, fast-paced science fiction story, a genetic engineering corporation, InGen, successfully clones 15 species of dinosaurs.  Hoping to feature these previously extinct creatures in the greatest theme park of all time in an island off the west coast of Costa Rica, the visionary of the project, John Hammond, brings a group of people to evaluate it, including a paleontologist, Alan Grant, a paleobotanist, Ellie Sattler, an investment banker, Donald Gennaro, a mathematician, Ian Malcolm, a computer system analyst, Dennis Nedry, and Hammond’s two grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy.  While the theme park initially lives up to its fascinating premise, the underlying instability and chaos of the organization are apparent when an employee turns off the park’s power and security grid to steal dinosaur embryos for a competing genetic company, Biosyn.  The action that follows is a nightmarish fight for survival against several Tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptors, and other dinosaurs as every character tries to leave the island alive.  The novel alternates between the points of view of many different characters, although Ian Malcolm and his illustrations often serve as the main narrator and framework of Michael Crichton’s concerns regarding unregulated science and technology. As in many of his novels, Crichton uses clear language and technical details to tell a suspenseful and compelling story about the dangers of bioengineering and people’s desire to use science and math to control nature and the world.

Subject Headings: Genetic Engineering; Clones and Cloning; DNA; Dinosaurs; Prehistoric Animals; Amusement Parks; Business Sabotage; Scientists; Eccentric Men; Billionaires; Islands — Costa Rica; Science Fiction; Suspense Stories; Adventure Stories; Thriller Stories;

Appeal: fast-paced, compelling, dangerous, dramatic, foreboding, menacing, suspenseful, thought-provoking, thrilling, multiple points of view, flawed and recognizable characters, strong and interesting secondary characters, sympathetic characters, action-oriented, cinematic, violent, imaginative, issue-oriented, descriptive, detailed, informative, intelligent, persuasive, scientific, thoughtful, unique, vivid, well-crafted

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: unique, thrilling, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law, and My Life by Peter Larson and Kristin Donnan is an intriguing book about the politics and legal issues surrounding a real significant dinosaur discovery and excavation.

A Clone of Your Own?: The Science and Ethics of Cloning by Arlene Judith Klotzko is an informative and thought-provoking book about the moral and legal issues and history of stem cell research and cloning.

Blindsided: Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear by Jim Cole is a fascinating book about a grizzly bear that attacks the author during a trip to Yellowstone National Park and how despite his injuries, he still has empathy for grizzly bears and other animals that are still trying to survive in the wild.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston is an action-oriented, detailed science fiction thriller about Tom Broadbent who receives a journal from a dying man, Stern Weathers, in New Mexico that a murderer and the government is determined to get because of its description of the location of a special completely preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Shock by Robin Cook is a suspenseful and thought-provoking story about two Harvard graduate students Joanna Meissner and Deborah Cochrane, in Boston, Massachusetts, who investigate the use of their eggs at a fertility clinic and in the process, confront firsthand the hazards of cloning.

Esau by Philip Kerr is a fast-paced scientific story about Stella Swift, a paleontologist, who receives a fossilized skull from America’s greatest mountain climber, Jack Furness, and organizes an expedition to the Himalayas to investigate the possible new species that the skull represents.

Murder in the Sentier

July 30, 2012

Author: Cara Black

Title: Murder in the Sentier

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 325

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1994

Series (If applicable): Aimee Leduc Investigations (3)

Plot Summary:

Book three in the Aimee Leduc series begins with a recently released prisoner contacting Aimee claiming to have information on her long lost mother.   When her informant winds up dead Aimee finds herself investigating two recent murders alongside burglaries and a kidnapping committed by a radical group in the 1970s.  Tech savvy Aimee also needs to keep up with her day job at Leduc Investigations.  A full cast of quirky characters, including an albino fashion designer, her business partner Renee, government rebels, and a handsome financial advisor, make for an intriguing story that always has something going on. Told from a couple different viewpoints Black’s work has well crafted, yet flawed characters.  With two mysteries converging together, and a vivid description of Paris (and not always the pretty side of Paris), this novel is compelling and suspenseful.

Subject Headings:

Computers, Families of missing persons, Leduc, Aimee, Murder, Murder investigation, Terrorists, Women Detectives

Appeal:

Character-driven, strong sense of place, suspenseful, compelling, flawed characters, engrossing, atmospheric, bittersweet, intriguing characters, series characters, quirky characters, action-oriented, flashbacks, investigative, detailed setting, straightforward language

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place, action-oriented, intriguing characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century by Tony Judt

Through the lives of three of France’s well known intellectuals of the 20th century, this work discusses politics and moral responsibility.  For those may want to know more about the political motivations behind the radicals featured in Black’s work.

Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey

This book provides a look at Paris’s history, through the lives of Parisians.  This work looks at the well known and beautiful as well as the underworld and gritty.  This work allows readers to see more of Paris than the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and takes the reader to places like the Sentier.

Metro Stop Paris: An Underground History of the City of Light by Gregor Dallas

The history of Paris told through twelve metro stops, allowing reader to see a more well rounded version of Paris through vignettes. Like Black’s work it does not always focus on the romanticized version of Paris.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Part of the Thomas Lynley mystery series this book features detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.  Havers, known for her abrasive personality, is partnered with Lynley, who she doesn’t particularly care for, on an investigation involving the murder of a man by his daughter.  This work, set in England, has a strong sense of place and features of woman investigator.

In the Woods by Tana French

The first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series features detective Rob Ryan.  Ryan is investigating a murder that is eerily similar to one he witnessed as a child.  A compelling mystery with a strong sense of place, it also features an investigator who, like Aimee Leduc, is looking into a mystery involving his own past.

Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti

The first book in the Inspector Daquin series involves the investigation into the death of a Thai girl, at a Parisian fashion workshop.  An action packed gritty mystery, with a strong sense of place in Paris, mainly the Sentier.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

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

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith, Performed by Lisette Lecat

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: Book published 1998, Book on CD 2003

Number of Pages: Book -235, Book on CD – 8.25 hours on 7 discs

Geographical Setting: Botswana

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  First in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Plot Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a rather large middle-aged woman, living in Gabarone, Botswana in 1998. Escaping an abusive marriage, she returns to care for her ailing father. When her beloved Daddy dies, she is left to consider her prospects. Using the money left to her by her father, and inspired by Agatha Christie, Precious Ramotswe opens the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – the first of its kind in all of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe, as she is called, proves adept at helping “people with the problems in their lives” such as finding stray husbands, exposing a con man, and discreetly following a strong-willed daughter. The vignettes are told with a quiet dignity but with humor and sincerity. The writing is very descriptive complementing the easy pace of the story. The narrator is a native of South Africa and adds a rich and lyrical voice to the narrative, providing not only correct pronunciation of the many native words, but also adding a lovely atmosphere to the stories.

Subject Headings: Private investigators – Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings, Ramotswe, Precious (fictitious character) – Fiction – Sound Recordings, Missing children – Fiction – Sound recordings, Swindlers and swindling – Fiction – Sound recordings, Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings

Appeal: Leisurely-paced, comfortable, gentle, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, character-driven, engaging, episodic, family-centered, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting, strong sense of place, accessible, natural and unaffected language, unpretentious  

3 terms that best describe this book: Comfortable, Humorous, Unpretentious

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Beaton, M. C. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; A cozy mystery filled with delightful characters living in the Cotswolds, this narrative presents an amusing and enjoyable fast-paced story. First in the Agatha Raisin series.

Drayson, Nicholas. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa; A gentle and delightful book that tells the story of a retired gentleman who is vying for the attention of a woman who appears to be out of his league; but all is not as it seems. The lovely descriptions of the Kenyan landscape frames the quiet and richly detailed narrative.

Farahad, Zama. Marriage Bureau for Rich People; This affectionate story tells of a retired Indian man who has a knack for matchmaking and opens a marriage arrangement office in southern India. Containing humor and optimism, this book is full of amusing characters and gentle stories in an exotic setting.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Randall, Will. Botswana Time; Using vivid descriptions, this personal account of life in rural Botswana gives the reader an insightful and engaging look at the culture and success of this African nation.

Summerscale, Kate. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective; Scotland Yard Detective Jack Whicher is called to unravel the mystery of the murder of a three year old boy in 1860 England. Tireless research and a compelling account by the author drives the reader forward in the investigation of this heinous crime.

Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: An English Mystery; Having unprecedented access to Christie’s letters and journals and using a conversational writing style, the author presents a detailed and interesting account of the life and works of Agatha Christie.

Name: Patty Daniel