Archive for September, 2012

Memoirs of Geisha

September 26, 2012

Title: Memoirs of a Geisha

Author: Arthur, Golden

Publication Date: 1999

Time Period: Japan – 1920s to the 1940s.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 503

Plot Summary: Arthur Golden weaves a compelling story in this memoir about a poor girl Sayuri sold and taken to the big city and is forced into a  kind of  life she was totally unprepared for. She finds herself in the world of Geisha, and learns the Geisha trade where she eventually becomes one of the most desired Geisha in Japan. Told from a first person point of view, this book explores in detail the daily life of  the Geisha, various stages of the Geisha training, the competitions, and  rivalries among the Geisha and the ultimate sale of the Geisha’s virginity.  Though leisurely paced, the reader is taken  through twists and turns of the plot and is made to feel real sympathetic to the  strong willed and determined Sayuri – who decides to go by the wishes of her heart rather than the dictates of the society. You find  a lot of cultural elements and language that evokes  a strong sense of place that depicts the culture and tradition of the Japanese in a very realistic fashion..

Appeal Characteristics: Compelling; lyrical; richly detailed, leisurely paced, atmospheric; reflective, introspective, insightful, inspiring, detailed, homespun; Leisurely-Paced; Evocative, sympathetic, introspective – Japanese culture, single character development over time, explores interesting multiple  characters

Subject Headings: Geishas, Artisans, competition in women, Women entertainers,

Prostitution, Women friendship, Men/women relationships, Jealousy in women, First loves, 20th century

3 Best Appeal Terms: Leisurely paced, Compelling, Reflective

Similar Fiction: 

My Antonia by  Carter, Willa – Shares similar tone and plot  as Memoirs of a Geisha -The story of an orphaned girl who struggles from a young age…

Reflective, Homespun, Bittersweet, Narrative style –

The whistling season by Doig, Ivan – Set in the early 1900s, has a very strong sense of place, Moving, Reflective, Nostalgic, Descriptive, Atmospheric. Readers who loved these elements in Memoirs of a Geisha would also love this novel.

The commoner by Schwartz, John Burnham

Those who loved Memoirs of a Geisha will also love this because they both share similar themes –  Where one from a lowly beginning finds love and rises to top – a commoner marries into royalty. Novel set in Japan, evokes language and cultural elements.  Gives a good insight into the culture and tradition of the Japanese. Has similar narrative style, from first person point of view.

Similar Non-fiction:

Autobiography of a Geisha by Masuda, Sayo

Masuda recounts from a first person point of view life as a Geisha.  This book exposes both the glamour and the indignity surrounding “Geisha”. Readers of Memoirs of a Geisha would be enthralled.

Japanland: a year in search of wa by Muller, Karin

An american film maker travels to Japan to explore the customs and traditions of the people.  We get an insight into the life of geishas, samurai and other communities.  Readers who loved memoirs of a Geisha would thoroughly enjoy this true life account on what goes behind closed doors of these customs.

Women of the pleasure quarters: the secret history of the geisha by Downer, Leslie

This is a well researched  book that delves more into the history of the Geisha.  A fascinating read by anyone curious about how “Geisha” came to be.

By: Vera

 

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Welcome to Bordertown: New stories and poems of the Borderlands

September 26, 2012

Welcome to Bordertown: New stories and poems of the Borderlands

Edited by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner Introduction by Terri Windling

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 517

Geographical Setting: Multiple Locations, mostly in Bordertown, present day

Series: Bordertown

Plot Summary:  Bordertown, the town on the border between The Realm and our land where neither magic nor technology is reliable, has reappeared after a 13-year absence from the human world; although, the residence think it has only been 13 days.  New humans are pouring into Bordertown with new technology and ideas.  The authors in this anthology, much like the characters in the stories, are a mixture of old Bordertown writers and new, who grew up reading the books and jumped at the chance to contribute to a new volume for this beloved shared world.  Since this book is a compilation from several different authors, the engaging stories each have their own unique feel.  The stories and poems in this anthology touch on many subjects, including, but not limited to love, identity, music, and horror, and sometimes all in the same story.

Subject Headings: Borderlands; Imaginary place; Elves; Humans; Magic; Parallel universes; Supernatural; Runaways; City life, Family life, Friendship.

Appeal:  engrossing, deliberate, series characters, well-developed, character centered, gritty, contemporary, magical, eccentric, poetic, atmospheric, dark, world building, shared world.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: world building, character detailed, dark.

Three fiction read-alikes:

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy, strong sense of place, magic)

This series is about a professional wizard, Harry Dresden, who sets up shop in Chicago as a private eye.  The books in this series are a cross between hard-boiled detective and dark fantasy fiction with a strong sense of place.

Boondocks fantasy edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg

This anthology of urban fantasy contains a collection of 20 stories featuring a mix of characters from folklore and people you might meet on the street today.

The modern fae’s guide to surviving humanity edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, 2012;

This is a collection of short stories about fairies surviving in the modern world.  Stories range from humor to dark fantasy.

Three related non-fiction titles:

The Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye

This 2006 award-winning anthology contains six short stories, from blithe to sinister, involving Fair Folk and the humans who come into contact with them.

Fairy tales in Electri-City by Francesca Lia Block

A short book of poetry involving mythological beings and a girl looking for love in present-day Los Angeles.

Weird U.S. : the oddyssey continues : your travel guide to America’s local legends and best kept secrets by Mark Sceurman, Mark Moran, Matt Lake.

Part of a series of travel books discussing the weirder parts of the U.S. tourists try to avoid and thrill seekers search for.

Name: Shira

Under the Poppy

September 26, 2012

Author: Koja, Kathe

Title: Under the Poppy

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 360

Geographical Setting: unspecified city, most likely Brussels in Europe

Time Period: 1870’s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Under the Poppy is a book about a brothel with the same name in a historical city, possibly nineteenth century Brussels. Its setting of theatrical atmosphere and cabaret scenery coordinates perfectly with the flamboyant and vivid main characters. In the first part of the story three friends meet again after not seeing each other for years. Rupert, who owns the brothel, Decca, his co-owner and the madam of the place and who is in love with Rupert, and Istvan, Decca’s brother, with whom Rupert is in love. The complicated love triangle begins while Istvan, also a puppeteer master, comes back to town. It’s a story about the war too, from which Rupert and Istvan want to escape by getting involved in the circles of the upper class society of the decadent 1870s Brussels.

Koja’s use of language is undeniably genius, rich, refreshing, and engrossing; the entire story is eccentric and requires lots of patience for the extravagant style. It has plenty of distinct and provoking sex scenes, but they are tastefully written.

Subject Headings: Friendship; Sexuality; Gay Man; Nineteenth Century; Houses of Prostitution; Triangles (Interpersonal Relations); Puppetry; War and Love; History and Drama.

Appeal: fast-paced; intense and sophisticated prose; rich and unexpected dialogues and narrative; theatrical; flamboyant; refreshing language; decadent and dark world; text dense of double-maenings; heartbreaking drama; descriptive, sexy.

Three Terms for Book: theatrical scenery, engrossing prose, intoxicating characters.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Carter, Angela, Nights at the Circus – Provocative touring circus among European Cities; gothic and magical scenery plus unconventional 19th century characters.

2. Diamant, Anita, The Last Days of Dogtown – Stories of an old Massachusets town in the 1800s, populated mostly by extraverted and decadent community members. It’s a piece of  quirky, uneasy, still very sensual Historical Fiction.

3. Valentine, Genevieve, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti – Apocalyptic and Fantasy Fiction with an edgy and melancholy tone.  There are adventures of th post war circus Tresaulti’s Troupe. Gorgeous prose.

 Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

1. Blumenthal, Eileen, Puppetry: A World History – Explores the ways puppetry played in the past cultural history of Western Europe and North America. Some photos can be shocking, but true to the topic.

2. Schwarzenbach, Annemarie, All the Roads Are Open: The Afgan Journey – This is the only one translated into English. A lyrical essay and memoir of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was a bohemian, free spirited, bisexual, cult figure in early years of the 20th century.

3. State, F. Paul, Historical Dictionary of Brussels – An interesting insight into hundreds of years of Belgium, Brussels, including the often colorful times of 19th century culture.

 

Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 1

September 26, 2012

Game of Thrones Graphic Novel

Author: George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, art by Tommy Patterson

Title: A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 1

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: A fictitious continent, Westeros, is composed of nine regions, each governed by a ruling house, which in turn are ruled over by a King of The Seven Kingdoms.

Time Period: The story takes place on an alternative world, but the time period resembles Earth’s Middle Ages.

Series (If applicable): This graphic novel is an adaptation of the first half of a novel entitled A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, which is itself the first volume of a planned seven part series of epic fantasy novels, collectively known as A Song of Fire and Ice and five of which have been published to date. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Two is scheduled to be published in June of 2013.

Plot Summary: As mysterious omens portend the return of a mysterious ancient evil from the frozen wastelands beyond his northern kingdom of Winterfell, more pressing political concerns drag Lord Eddard Stark to King’s Landing, where he is asked to serve as the “King’s Hand” to his friend King Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms, in his hour of need. Conspiracies and rumors of conspiracies which threaten to topple Baratheon, seem even to include the queen’s own clan, the power hungry Lanisters. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen is King’s Landing-bound, carrying the mysterious dragon eggs which are the only legacy of her clan’s former claim to the throne. This character-driven story which unfolds along multiple plot-lines, weaves a complex portrait of a civil war set in a world of kings, knights and barbarians, but with long-dormant magic beginning to reassert itself. The artwork is richly detailed pencil and ink, and the layouts give focus mostly to the characters, emphasizing the dialogue, with the occasional wide-angle or splash panel which help evoke the lushly-imagined world of the story.

Subject Headings: Nobility, Knights and knighthood, Good and evil, Violence, Rulers, Magic, Dragons, Imaginary places

Appeal: compelling, deliberate, engrossing, atmospheric, dangerous, dramatic, closely observed, detailed, intriguing, multiple points of view, strong secondary characters, vivid, well-developed, character-centered, episodic, multiple plot lines, sexually explicit, detailed setting, exotic, political, complex, well-crafted, witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: atmospheric, character-centered, well-crafted

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

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

300 by Frank Miller

Readers who respond to the rich atmosphere generated by George R. R. Martin’s research into Medieval history may appreciate this vivid graphic novel retelling of the last stand of a band of Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, against an overwhelming force of Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae.

The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel, by Miyamoto Musashi, adapted by Sean Michael Wilson, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada

This classic treatise on swordsmanship and the way of the samurai, here translated into graphic novel form, may appeal to readers of A Game of Thrones who revel in depictions of swordplay and ancient forms of combat.

The Wars of the Roses, by Alison Weir

Readers who want to peek behind the curtain at George R. R. Martin’s process, may wish to read about the real Wars of the Roses, which he researched in writing A Game of Thrones. This epic dynastic battle between the royal houses of Lancaster and York would forever impact the British monarchy, and led to the rule of the Lancastrian Tudor dynasty for over a century.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Conan: Volume 1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories adapted by Kurt Busiek, art by Cary Nord

Robert E. Howard’s pulp classic, “sword and sorcery” hero, Conan the Barbarian, receives the glossy, painted, graphic novel treatment. Although myth and magic are more front-and-center here than in A Game of Thrones, Conan’s world is similarly well-developed, with complex societies and cultures as the backdrop to the non-stop violent action. This volume contains a series of short tales that illuminate Conan’s backstory, including the young warrior’s meeting with the titular frost giant’s daughter, an ice nymph.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan, adapted by Chuck Dixon, art by Chase Conley

Featuring elaborate world-building filled with complex political machinations not unlike George R. R. Martin’s, this graphic novel adaptation follows a rag tag band of adventurers on a quest to find the Infant Dragon Reborn and save their world from evil.

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: Vol. 1: The Journey Begins by Stephen King, adapted by Robin Furth, art by Sean Phillips and Richard Isanove

Readers who enjoyed A Game of Thrones, which refracts the Middle Ages through the prism of the fantasy genre, may enjoy the parallel world that King has constructed, which blends the Old West with Arthurian quest. The story follows a knight-like gunslinger, Roland, as he journeys toward the Dark Tower, claimed to be the nexus of all realities.

Name: John Rimer

Brimstone

September 26, 2012
Author: Robert B. Parker
Title: Brimstone
Genre: Western
Publication Date: May 5th 2009
Number of Pages: 304 pages or 5 hours and 5 minutes on 4 CD’s
Geographical Setting: Texas, United States
Time Period: 19th Century American West
Series (If applicable): Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch; book 3
Plot Summary: The third book in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series, followings the two gun-men for hire to Brimstone. After finding Virgil’s sweetheart Allie French in a brothel the three decide to start life over in the town of Brimstone. Cole and Hitch are hired on as two deputies to keep the peace in town. Things get shaky as Brother Percival sets out to shut down all the saloons in town and help Allie become a changed woman. A strange Indian appears and kidnaps two women. Pike the owner of Pike’s Palace (the best saloon in town) is not taking any of Percival’s nonsense and intends on staying in business. Can the two deputies keep the peace before anyone gets hurt? Or is murder and gunfights inevitably in the near future? With deals gone wrong, lovers gone astray and men working for both sides, this western novel has something in it to please everyone.
Subject Headings: Former Lovers; Contract Killers; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Houses of prostitution; Redemption; Change (Psychology); Murder; Violence in men; Gunfights; Protectiveness in men; Small town life—The West (United States); Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett
Appeal: Gritty, Fast-paced, Lawmen, Cowboys, Indians, Small Western towns, Gunfights, Men-Friendships, First-Person Narrative, Dialog Driven, Character Detailed, Detailed Setting
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Gunfights, Character Detailed, First-Person Narrative
Three Fiction Read-a-likes:
1. The Sisters Brothers (May 2011) by Patrick deWitt
This fast-paced, darkly humorous western follows the two guns for hire, Eli and Charlie Sister on a mission to kill Herman Kermit Warm. As told through Eli’s narration, along the way the men encounter many adventures some involving a bear and Indians. Like Brimstone this novel is told in First-person narrative and involves the story of two guns for hire.
2.  The Virginian: a horseman of the plains (Apr 2002) by Owen Wister
The first true western written, this story follows the life of a cowboy on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. With episodes of violence, hate, revenge, friendship and romance, you get a feel of what life was like back in the 19th century. Containing many of the same elements as Brimstone it would be an interesting look at the first western written and how it paved the way for future stories to unfold.
3. The Palo Duro Trail (Nov 2004) by Jory Sherman
A man hired to move 4,000 cattle along the Palo Duro Trail faces many obstacles along the way, including; harsh weather, Comanches and a hired killer. Like Brimstone both characters in these books deal with Native Americans and others who want to kill them.
Three Nonfiction Read-a-likes:
1. Wyatt Earp: the life behind the legend (Sep. 1997) by Casey Tefertiller
Using primary sources and personal accounts by people who knew Wyatt Earp, Casey Tefertiller tries to tell the true story of the legendary lawman. What really happened at Tombstone, Arizona during that famous gunfight? With elements of true history involving real men of the law, you can see first hand what a marshal would be up against, just like what Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch experienced.
2. Draw: the greatest gunfights of the American West (2003) by James Reasoner
In this book myths and legends of Hollywood do not apply. Only the truth on how those who lived to serve the law, fight the law and died by the gun are told. Like the gunfights in Brimstone this book details real life gunfights of the west.
3. Tough towns: true tales from the gritty streets of the old west (Nov 2006) by Robert Barr Smith
Citizens living in small western towns banned together to fight against lawbreakers and protect their towns. Like Brimstone this books tells the tales of small towns and the people who became heros in their own time.
Name: Madison Gailus

Code Name Verity

September 26, 2012

Title:  Code Name Verity

Author:  Elizabeth Wein

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  343

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain and France

Time Period:  World War II (1943)

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: 

An unnamed young woman, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France during WWII, agrees to turn over information about the British War Effort.  Her confession weaves together characters and conditions of her current situation with stories from her past, describing her friendship with Maddie, the pilot of the plane who flew them to France and crashed.  Though Code Name Verity is a suspenseful spy novel, above all else it is a story of friendship and survival, courageous and heart breaking.

Subject Headings:  World War, 1939-1945; Great Britain History; France History German occupation; Insurgency; Nazis; Women air pilots; Espionage; Friendship.

Appeal:  character-driven; suspenseful; compelling; intense; moving; thought-provoking; cross-class friendship; courage; survival; details about period aircraft and flying; women’s involvement in the war effort; stylistically complex; intricately plotted; unreliable narrator; multiple narrators; diary fiction; flashbacks; closed ending; war story; spy story; World War II story.

3 appeal terms that best describe this work:  compelling, character-driven, friendship

Similar/Relevant Authors and Works (Fiction):

Tamar by Mal Peet

After the death of her beloved grandfather, Tamar inherits a box containing clues and coded messages, leading her on a journey to uncover the truth about her family and its secrets, stemming from involvement with resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II.  Tamar and Code Name Verity are both compelling, suspenseful, intricately plotted stories involving secrets and betrayal, set during World War II.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Death narrates the story of Liesl, a young girl living with foster parents in Nazi Germany, for whom stealing books, with their stories and later her own, is a way to survive the horrors of war.  Readers who enjoy moving, character-driven, stylistically complex stories may enjoy The Book Thief and Code Name Verity; both books also involve secrets and survival during World War II.

Yossel by Joe Kubert

A graphic novel set in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, Yossel portrays the harsh life and conditions in Nazi-occupied Poland, told by a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy through his sketches.  Readers interested in exploring more stories about World War II and the Resistance movement that are moving, thought-provoking, and character-driven may be interested in this book.

Similar/Relevant Authors and Works (Nonfiction):

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm

After WWII, Vera Atkins, a high-ranking female officer of a British Intelligence unit, investigated the fates of agents who had disappeared during the war.  Readers interested in learning more about the British Intelligence unit and its involvement with the resistance movement during WWII may enjoy this book, as could readers interested in reading about the involvement of women in the war effort.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Jan, helped many Jews escape the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII by hiding them in their home and in the empty cages of the Warsaw Zoo, which had been heavily damaged during a Nazi bombing of the city.  Readers interested in finding more stories about courage and survival during WWII may be interested in this dramatic tale of compassion and heroism in the midst of war.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

In this graphic novel memoir, the author/illustrator portrays his father’s experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland and imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp.  Readers looking for intense, moving and thought-provoking stories about survival during WWII may be interested in discovering this title.

Name:  Nicole

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

September 26, 2012

Author: Ernest J. Gaines

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction; African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1971

Number of Pages: 259

Geographical Setting: Various rural towns throughout the south, particularly Louisiana

Time Period: 1860s-1960s

Plot Summary: Miss Jane Pittman, originally named Ticey, was not even 13 when she was declared free by the emancipation proclamation and set out to Ohio towards the freedom of the north. While she never makes it to the north, she journeys throughout the south living on various plantations and farms as the wife of two different men and also as a single woman. This story spans nearly a century, as Miss Jane tells the story of her life from emancipation until the civil rights movement and her death in the 1960s. Written in 4 books in Miss Jane’s strong southern dialect, this compelling tale of a courageous woman’s survival through racial injustice is an important tale of American history that often makes it difficult to remember that this is in fact a work of fiction.

Subject Headings: African American Women, Race Relations, Leadership in Women, Slavery, Louisiana, Southern America, Civil Rights, Reconstruction, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Segregation, Plantation Life, Historical fiction, Centenarians

Appeal: Compelling, emotionally charged, character driven, complex language usage, flawed characters, inspiring characters, engaging prose, gritty, autobiographical, lyrical, nostalgic, realistic, insightful, candid, historical

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character driven, gritty, lyrical

Similar fiction authors and works:

Cooper, J. California. Some People, Other Places This novel follows a family through their struggles during the late 19th century through multiple generations. It has a similar bittersweet tone, is character driven, and follows a family through multiple generations.

Haley, Alex. Roots This story, like The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, spans generations of African American history. It has a similar tone and is family saga based, following one family through generations to reveal insights on the nature of humanity and the history of the family.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved This novel takes place post-civil war in Ohio, and chronicles the story of an escaped slave and her family. It is similarly lyrical and complex, and deals with family dramas and race relations, particularly regarding the African American community.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Delaney, Sarah Louise. Having Our Say A memoir comprised of interviews with Sadie and Bessie Delaney span nearly a century of African American history. The two women’s tales tell of the hardships and challenges faced by these two prominent African American women as they overcame racism and sexism to become successful strong women.

Lewis, David L. W.E.B. DuBois This definitive biography accounts W.E.B. DuBois’ early life and the defining moments that made him a pillar in the civil rights community, especially during the 1920s and 1930s.

Murray, Pauli. Song in a Weary Throat In this autobiographical account, Murray recounts her life as a child, her struggles in education to eventually become a lawyer, and her intense involvement in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements of the 1960s.

Where the River Runs

September 26, 2012

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Author: Richard S. Wheeler

Title: Where the River Runs

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 180

Geographical Setting: The West (United States)

Time Period: 1840s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jedediah (Jed) Owen leads a group of twelve men on a mission to bring peace to the Indian nations. After leaving from Fort Leavenworth and traveling through the Missouri River to Fort Union on the American Fur Company steamboat, they disappear. Jed’s journey in the wilderness includes viewing the deaths of all of the other members of his group, surviving the trip and dealing with Indians along the way. Several months pass by; not hearing from Jedd, his fiancée Susannah St. George goes on a mission to find him. Susannah hires Jean Gallant, who works for the American Fur Company; to help find her fiancée. She knows that he is somewhere out there. The book explores the journeys of Jedd and Susannah in this book about love in the Wild West.

Subject Headings: missing persons; wilderness survival; Indians of North American; scouting (reconnaissance), Piegan Indians; pioneer women; the forties (19th century); nineteenth century

Appeal: colloquial, descriptive, detailed setting, dramatic, fast-paced, homespun, investigative, menacing atmosphere, multiple points of view, nostalgic, romantic, rural

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: menacing atmosphere; nostalgic; romantic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

-De Voto, Bernard Augustine, 1897-1955, Across the Wide Missouri (fur trade in middle 1800s, information on the American Fur Company)

-Dary, David, The Oregon Trail: an American saga (describes the difficult travels and lives of groups of people traveling through the Wild   West)

-DeLay, Brain 1971- War of a thousand deserts: Indian raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (describes tension between Americans and Indians in 1840s, explains the economic and societal state U.S. in 1840s)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

-Zollinger, Norman, Meridian: A Novel of Kit’s Carson’s West (set in 1840s, conquest of the west)

-Blevins, Winfred, So wild a dream (adventure to the west in frontier west)

-Compton, Ralph, The Shadow of a noose (brothers have mission looking for sister, brothers get into trouble on the way)

Name: Samantha Biegel

The Proving Trail

September 26, 2012

Author: Louis L’Amour

Title: The Proving Trail

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1978

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: The main character travels through multiple states, including Texas, Colorado, and Kansas.

Time Period: Late 1800s

Plot Summary:  This is a suspenseful tale of crime and corruption in the American West. Kearney McRaven was only a teenager when his father was killed after he had won a lot of money while gambling. He was determined to solve his father’s murder and keep his father’s winnings. This lead McRaven on a cross-country journey of self-discovery to search for information related to his family history and why it seemed like his father was previously running from someone that had attempted to kill him.  Through out this journey Kearney McRaven had to learn to stay alive while out running these same outlaws that had murdered his father.

Subject Headings: Western stories, Outlaws, Murder

Appeal terms:  action-oriented, investigative, menacing atmosphere, fast-paced, chilling, gritty, plot-centered, explicitly violent, tragic, foreboding, details of frontier life, well-crafted

Three appeal terms: action-oriented, investigative, menacing atmosphere

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction:

West Texas Kill by Johny D. Boggs: This work is about fighting outlaws and corruption in Texas.

Hard Luck Money by J.A. Johnstone: This is a tale about solving a murder and fighting outlaws.

The Badger’s Revenge by Larry D. Sweazy: This story questions why outlaws want to seek revenge against the main character while he tries to stay alive.

Non-Fiction:

Big Trouble: a Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America by J. Anthony Lukas: This is a non-fiction book about a real murder in America’s west.

Sacagawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West by Larry McMurtry: This is a non-fiction book of essays written by a well-known author of Western fiction.

Gunfighter Nation: the Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth Century America by Richard Slotkin: This is a non-fiction book that examines the influence of the frontier myth on American culture and politics.

 Name: Rachel Fischer

The Postmistress

September 26, 2012

Author: Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Franklin, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod) and war-torn Europe

Time Period: Fall 1940 – Summer 1941

Plot Summary: Set in the early 1940s when World War II was raging in Europe, The Postmistress interweaves the stories of three women as their lives are touched by the war. Iris James, the single, 40-year-old postmistress in the coastal town of Franklin, Massachusetts, prides herself in delivering the mail (what she considers delivering secrets). That is, until one day when she reads a letter that she slips into her pocket, where it remains undelivered. Meanwhile, Iris quietly observes the town doctor’s new wife, Emma Trask, as she desperately waits for word from her new husband who ran off to London to offer his services to victims of the war. Both Iris and Emma tune into the radio to listen to American radio girl Frankie Bard as she reports from the London Blitz and other areas in Europe and shares her dramatic personal accounts of the terrors she witnesses. On the eve of America’s entrance into the war, the stories of Iris, Emma, and Frankie collide when Frankie returns to the Cape Cod town with a vow to deliver a secret letter…

Subject Headings: Postmasters – Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Massachusetts—Franklin—Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Radio broadcasting and the war—Fiction; London (England)—History—Bombardment, 1940-1941—Fiction.

Appeal: Character-centered, historical details, unsettling, descriptive, small-town, detailed setting, lyrical, dramatic, engrossing, tragic, romantic, leisurely-paced, well-developed characters

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, historical details and setting, dramatic

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Another historical fiction novel set during the time period of World War II, Sarah’s Key will appeal to fans of The Postmistress because of its similar historical context, character-driven storyline, and lyrical style. In Sarah’s Key, a family history full of secrets is unraveled as American journalist Julia Jarmond investigates the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, and learns about the ordeal of a young girl named Sarah who was arrested with her family during this raid by the French police during the war.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

The book 22 Britannia Road is another historical fiction read that takes place during World War II. Similar to The Postmistress, this book is character-centered, and tells the stories of different characters whose lives are connected in some way. It allows the readers to connect with these characters and understand the impact of the war on each of their lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A suggested readalike for Sarah Blake, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in London at the end of the Second World War, and focuses on writer Juliet Ashton as she seeks a subject for her next book. When she begins correspondence with a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a book club formed when Guernsey was under German occupation) Juliet is drawn into the world of the society’s members and ends up making connections that change her life forever. This is another title with a set of well-developed characters whose stories are told through a series of letters. Through the letters Juliet exchanges with the members, the reader learns details about each member and how the German occupation impacted their lives.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

World War II London Blitz Diary by Ruby Side Thompson

This diary is the personal account of Ruby Side Thompson’s experiences during the World War Two London Blitz. Ruby’s detailed entries chronicle her struggles to cope in a war-torn city where bombs were being dropped nightly while still having to deal with the issues of everyday life. This book offers readers a unique look at this horrific time in history through the eyes of someone who fought to survive through it.  I chose this title because it provides a non-fiction account of World War II, but has appeal for readers of The Postmistress because of its focus on a person and the connection of viewing the war from her point of view. I felt it would have a more lyrical style and be more enticing than just a dry, factual account of events.

Letters from the lost: a memoir of discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes

Author Helen Waldstein Wilkes’ parents were among the few Jews who were able to leave Europe in 1938. In this emotional memoir, Wilkes reveals the letters that were written between her parents and the family they had to leave behind. This book provides a compelling glimpse into this tragic time in history through the personal letters of those who witnessed the horrors firsthand, and I feel would be relevant to readers of The Postmistress for the connection to the characters (in this case actual people witnessing the war), and for the historical elements of World War II.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Erik Larson, the best-selling author of Devil in the White City, writes this compelling narrative about the city of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign. The story focuses on William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his daughter, Martha, who becomes mesmerized by the glamorous lifestyles of Berlin’s salon society.  This relates to The Postmistress with its subject of World War II, and the character-centered appeal. Also, because it is written by a best-selling author, this fact alone might intrigue readers who are interested in this time in history.