Archive for October, 2012

The Graveyard Book

October 31, 2012

The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman

Title: The Graveyard Book

Genre: Horror, Fantasy Fiction

Publication Date: October 2008

Number of Pages: 312 pgs.

Geographical Setting: Cemetery grounds in Great Britain

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: When he was just a baby Nobody Owen’s family was murdered by the man called Jack. Fortunately for Nobody he escaped this man and crawled to safety to the cemetery up the hill. There Mr. and Mrs. Owen found the boy and with the help of his new guardian Silas the boy would grow up protected in the graveyard. He is given “the freedom of the graveyard” which allows him to communicate with the dead and the living. He even learns skills of fading, dream walking, and the languages of nonhuman being. Over the years however curiosity got the best of him and he finds himself on many adventures, both in and out of the graveyard. Some involving witches, ghouls, ghosts, werewolves, snake like creatures and more. Even attending a school for the living doesn’t go as planned for Nobody. Throughout his youth, the man named Jack is in constant pursuit of the boy and wishes to finish what he started years ago. He will not stop until his job is complete.

This coming of age story will appeal to those in their teen years as well as any adult with an imagination. Darkly written at times with a chilling atmosphere, this book is sure to please those who like suspense novels. Witty and humorous at times, this book will ease those who don’t want to be “scared to death” but enjoy a darker tales.

Subject Headings: Orphan boys, Cemeteries, Ghosts, Supernatural, Werewolves, Dead, Boys

Appeal: Orphan boy, Graveyard, Murder, Ghosts, Suspenseful, Friendships, Creepy, Witty, Fast Paced, Bittersweet, Coming of age, Scary

Three appeal terms that best describe this book: Coming of Age, Scary, Ghosts

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Weird encounters: true tales of haunted places (Sep 2010)
This book tells the stories of over 75 hauntings and supernatural experiences found throughout the United States. If you liked the idea of a boy growing up in a graveyard and at times haunting people you may like to read about “real” haunting in the US.
Similarities: Ghosts, Graveyards, Scary

2. Orphan Train Rider: One boy’s true story (1996) by Andrea Warren
Tells the story of one mans trip on the orphan train and how over 200,000 abandoned children were relocated to new homes between 1854-1929.
Similarities: Orphan boy, Coming of age
3. Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England ghost town (2009) by Elyssa East
Tells the story of a ghost town in Massachusetts. Where murder took place and witches still hold ceremonies in the woods surrounding the town to this day. People claim sightings of pirates and ghosts.
Similarities: Ghosts, Murder, WitchesThree Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:1. Ghostgirl (Aug 2008) by Tonya Hurley
If you liked reading about a boy growing up in a graveyard, you may like reading about a girl who goes to a high school for the dead. She lives among the dead but wishes to go to the school dance with the living and her crush. Switching roles from a live person living with the dead to a dead person wishing to be alive again will give readers a chance at a different view on the meaning of life and death. Similarities: Ghosts, Fantasy, Death2. Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children (Jun 2011) by Ransom Riggs
If you liked reading about a boy with some unusual abilities then you’ll enjoy Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children. In this book a young boy goes to visit the orphanage his grandfather was sent to in order to escape the Nazi’s. Upon arriving he finds that the children from his grandfathers stories are still there and are in danger and so is he.
Similarities: Orphans, Suspenseful, Supernatural, Creepy

3. The replacement (Sep 2010)
Mackie, a changeling, replaced a human baby when he was just a baby. Every seven years the inhabitants of the underground dwelling take a human baby as a sacrifice and leave in its place a changeling. Now with another baby gone, Mackie finds himself going back to his place of birth and setting things right, before the townspeople find out who he really is.
Similarities: Creepy, Fantasy, Supernatural

Name: Madison Gailus

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Boy Meets Girl

October 31, 2012

Boy Meets Girl

Author: Cabot, Meg
Title: Boy Meets Girl
Genre: Chick Lit
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 387
Geographical Setting: New York City
Time Period: Present day
Series: The “Boy Series”

The story is told from a series of emails, instant messages, journal entries, to do lists exchanged between characters in the story.  Kate MacKenzie the main character recently moved out from her long time boyfriend Dale who would not commit to marriage.  She is taken in by her newly married best friend and husband – Jen and Craig Sadler.  The story progresses, with the ex boy friend desperately wanting her back and subsequently creating lot of scene with her refusal.  As the Personnel Representative – Human Resources Department of The New York Journal, Kate is ordered by her (unpopular) boss Amy but known as – T.O.D. (Tyrannical Office Despot), to fire the baker for refusing to serve a senior officer a piece of pie.  Unfortunately, the fired employee sues the the New York Journal for wrongful termination, no – “breach of contract”.   Now, Kate is named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit.  The start of this legal arbitration sets wheels of events rolling, leading to a new romantic venture for Kate, conspiracies, and some love trysts.

There are multiple plot threads going on at the same time involving family issues, friendship, and trust which intertwines and eventually connects back to the main story.  An interesting angle is the plot of the cute  defense lawyer who Kate is beginning  to fall in love with and who happens to be Kate’s boss’ fiancé’s brother. This creates additional level of complexities making the book so much  harder to put down – you are compelled to follow the unraveling of this situation.

This is a really heartwarming story, realistic plot with laugh out loud rhetoric.  Anyone who loves romance without the “mushy” part of it would enjoy this.

Subject Headings:
Employees, Lawyers, Men/women relationships, Newspaper publishing, Personnel management, Single women

Appeal:
Plot-driven, Fast-paced, Funny, Upbeat, Engaging, Charming, Cozy, Romantic, Conversational,Attention-grabbing, Witty,

3 Appeal Terms:
Romantic, Fast-paced, Funny,

Fiction Read – a-likes:

Getting to the Good Part by Files, Lolita
Another fast paced, and heartwarming story of a girl also loving someone who got her fired as in Boy Meets Girl. The story tells about starting a new life in New York city as Kate did in Boy Meets Girl. Readers who enjoyed the theme of moving and trying to settle in a big city would also love this story.

Not Another Bad Date by Gibson, Rachel
Story about a young girl with a track record of a series of bad dates and begins to question her own judgements about men.  Her insecurities is shown as she continually fails to get a good date.  Similar to Boy Meets Girl where Kate believes there had to be something wrong with her because of her poor judgements of her past relationship and things always seem to go wrong whenever she  was in the presence of her new guy.  Another story of a young girls’ quest for love and overcoming some circumstances in the process.

Strange Bedpersons by Crusie, Jennifer
Also funny and upbeat as Meg Cabot’s Boy Meets Girl involving a love affair between a republican lawyer and a democrat.  For those who enjoyed the hint of politics and and different ideologies expressed in Boy Meets Girl, this book delves a little deeper into into such differences and shows how such issues can be overcome through a lot of compromise.

Non-Fiction read a-likes:

Heart of the City : nine stories of love and serendipity on the streets of New York by Ariel Sabar
If you really enjoyed Boy Meets Girl by Cabot, Meg as a fiction, well, here is a non fiction collection of similar stories where couples met and found love in New York city.  This will make a great read for those who enjoy real life events better than fiction.  The author brings us stories of nine couples who met by chance in various parts of the New York city and got married afterwards.  Just like Boy Meets Girl, it is funny, charming and romantic.

Finding Love Again: 6 simple steps to a new and happy relationship by Orbuch, Terri
This book has a lot of information and  ideas on how to find love again.  Considering the turmoil Kate and other characters in the story had to go through in their relationships, this book comes with a 21 day plan on how to commit and keep it real in relationships. Readers who needs new relationships as well as those looking for ways to build a happy union would really enjoy this book.

Date or Soul Mate?: How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less  by Neil Warren
The author discusses  tips on how to tell you’ve found “the right one”.  This is a practical guide on the psychology of dating.  This book gives more insight to theme of dating found in Boy Meets Girl where the main character Kate was consumed in finding her true love.  Readers in the same life situation would find this book a great resource in navigating the dating scene.

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

October 31, 2012

Bedbugs CoverTitle: Bedbugs

Author: Winters, Ben H.

Publication Date: 2011

Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: Present Day

Genre: Horror Stories, Suspense Stories

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: When Alex, Susan, and little Emma Wendt move into a New York City brownstone boasting a prime location and an amazingly cheap rent, they happily embark on a new chapter of their lives.  Sure, the landlady may be slightly eccentric, and the previous tenants may have disappeared inexplicably, but these are small grievances compared to the perfection of the place.  Until the bedbugs show up, those notoriously hardy pests swarming ever-increasingly across the city.  When an exterminator finds no trace of the insects, Susan’s sanity shows signs of cracking.  Where are these bugs?  Why aren’t Alex and Emma being bitten, and what exactly is in the basement?  Winters’ story preys on our collective fear of creepy-crawlies delivering a good, old-fashioned horror story wrapped up in a modern-day package.  He draws inspiration from the best conventions of great horror classics: the hopeful beginning, the slightly off-kilter secondary characters, an ominous warning to stay out of the basement, the escalating psychological torture of a progressively unstable narrator, even a portentous portrait a la Dorian Gray.  This fast-paced novel will keep the pages turning until the chilling and twisted end; it will keep the lights on much longer than that.

Appeal Characteristics: creepy, menacing, fast-paced, foreboding, paranoid, plot-twist, details of New York City, dark, resolved-ending, off-kilter, manic, unsettling, compelling, plot-driven, suspenseful, movie-like

Subject Headings: New York City, Brooklyn, Bedbugs, Family, Haunted Houses, Secrets, Apartment houses, Paranoia

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Creepy, Unsettling, Fast-Paced

Similar Fiction: 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This horror classic shares many themes with Bedbugs chief of which is the unstable nature of the narrator’s mind.  Where Winters’ tale is completely resolved, Jackson’s leaves the reader with a little more ambiguity.  Read this as both source material and a genuinely scary story.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Another classic horror story this time featuring the psychological torture of a young woman by neighbors whose eccentricities begin taking on a malevolent tone after Rosemary becomes pregnant.  The similar frame—everyday life slowly replaced by darkness—and paranoid feeling of this novel should appeal to readers who enjoyed Bedbugs.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

For anyone who wants a terrifying read with plenty of turns and surprises set in the modern landscape, look no further.  The menacing bed bugs are replaced here with a menacing—and very real—ghost.  Similar to Winters, though, Hill adds layers of poignant everyday struggles that interweave with the overall fight against the supernatural.

Bonus Watch-alike: The Innkeepers written and directed by Ti West

During the last operating days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, Claire and Luke, the last remaining employees, are determined to expose the ghosts that haunt the one hundred year old building.  As the final night wears on, Claire’s psyche begins to unravel as the line between reality and imagination begin to blur.  A modern-day ghost story that feels like an homage to its predecessors, the movie finds plenty of common ground with Bedbugs.

Similar Non-fiction:

Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects by Amy Stewart

This natural history contains not just the story of the bed bug but all manner of creepy and devilish insects.  Stewart proves that bugs don’t have to be supernatural to be scary.

Death Sentence: The True Story of Velma Barfield’s Life, Crimes, and Punishment by Jerry Bledsoe

The horror story staple of sweet, grandmotherly, ladies hiding a menacing secret isn’t just fiction, as proved by this true crime.  An account of the life and murders of the only woman executed in the US between 1962 and 1998, this book will chill readers with accounts of Bledsoe’s crimes as much as it shows redemption by prison.

Songs from the Black Chair: A Memoir of Mental Interiors by Charles Barber

A closely detailed look at mental illness and the real tortures of the psyche from the mouths of the sufferers, this book is part memoir, part investigative science writing.  As a man himself living under the dark shadow of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barber tells the stories of the insane with balance and respect.

Name: Jessica

The Haunting of Hill House

October 31, 2012

Author: Shirley Jackson

Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Genre: Horror, Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 1959

Number of Pages: 182

Geographical Setting: Hillshire, Undisclosed probably Eastern United States location

Time Period: Late 1950s

Plot Summary: When Eleanor receives a letter from a doctor inviting her to stay in a beautiful country mansion for the summer, she jumps at her chance to finally get away from her mundane life. Yet even as she approaches the house she can tell that something is off kilter. After meeting her companions for the stay at Hill House, Dr. Montague tells his fateful crew the haunting past of the mansion and its inhabitants. The longer they stay, the more terrifying their time becomes, until finally things spiral out of control. This is easily one of the most terrifying books I have ever read, and a sense of impending doom permeates from the first page.  If you want to be haunted, this is the book for you.

Subject Headings: Haunted Houses, Ghosts, Interpersonal Relationships, Occult, Poltergeists, Paranormal Phenomenon, Loners, Single Women,

Appeal: Atmospheric, Chilling, Moody, Creepy, Menacing, Macabre, Suspenseful, Builds in intensity, Haunting, Menacing, Psychological, Dark, Dangerous, Elegant Writing Style,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Chilling, Atmospheric, Haunting

Similar fiction authors and works:

Hill, Susan. The Woman in Black

Sitting around the fire on Christmas Eve, a family begins to tell ghost stories. As they take turns, one family member recalls a true event of terrifying trauma experienced in his twenties of a visit to an English countryside estate and the horrifying events that passed there. A gothic and creepy tale written in beautiful prose, this story is sure to chill your bones.

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw

When a new governess is hired to take care of two children on an old country estate, life seems peaceful. However, this peace is short lived as evil spirits of passed on servants begin to torment the new governess. This story has a similar atmospheric and creepy tone, and pushes the question of sanity as the haunting become increasingly terrifying.

Reardon, Joyce. The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red

Written as a journal kept by a young wife, this novel tells the story of Ellen Rimbauer’s life in the haunted mansion Rose Red. The longer she stays living in the house, the more horrible events come to pass, and all are recorded in the diary that is so dear to her. Another creepy and atmospheric read about a terrifying house, this is sure to be a great read!

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. I’m Looking For You: Growing Up Haunted

An autobiographical story of Boylan’s life growing up in a haunted house, this story tells of several instances where ghosts and apparitions made an appearance in the Pennsylvania house she grew up in. While this is a ghost story, it also examines interpersonal relationships and the life of someone who feels to be more of an outsider.

Rule, Leslie. Ghosts in the Mirror: real cases of spirit encounters

This collection of true ghost stories is sure to haunt you! This collection of more than a dozen true ghost stories has been painstakingly researched and collected over many years. The variety of encounters, from haunted houses to ghostly travelers, is sure to chill anyone looking for some true to life paranormal tales.

Williams, Dorah L. Haunted: the incredible true story of a Canadian Family’s experience living in a haunted house

The title pretty much sums up what this book is about: a Canadian family who inhabits a haunted house. The story is chilling and the fact that it is supposedly true makes it all the more terrifying.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

October 31, 2012

Author: Ira Levin

Title: Rosemary’s Baby

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1967

Number of Pages: 218

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: 1960s

Plot Summary: Do you like reading books that have been made into movies? Then check this one out. Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband Guy Woodhouse moved into a famous apartment building in New York. A close friend of there’s feared that due to many incidents in the building’s past, there was something wrong with the building and they should not have moved there. This story progresses through Rosemary’s painful pregnancy and surprising birth of a child. Unfortunately, Rosemary’s friend hinted within a book that he left her before his death, that something was wrong with her neighbors. Could her neighbors be a coven of witches? Is her husband aware of this problem? Do the witches desire to take her baby? Has Rosemary gone insane? If you are a fan of literary fiction and want just a taste of horror, then try this book.

Sequel: Son of Rosemary

Subject Headings: Pregnancy, Witches, Witch Coven, Devil Worship

Appeal terms: leisurely paced, unhurried, bleak, melancholy, bittersweet, quirky, eccentric, tragic, investigative, classic, character centered, descriptive

Three appeal terms: tragic, character centered, quirky

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction-

The servants of twilight by Dean Koontz: This is a tale of a cult that is targeting a child because he may be the Antichrist. It was one of Koontz’s best works.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller: This is a classic play about the Salem Witch Trials.

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: This book is part of the “Lives of the Mayfair Witches” series. It tells the tale of four centuries of witchcraft.

Non-Fiction-

In the Devil’s Snare: the Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton: This is a book about the history of the Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692.

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen: This is a history of witchcraft accusations in New England. The author wrote about the social, religious, and economic reasons for accusing people of being witches.

Wicca for Beginners: fundamentals of philosophy & practice by Thea Sabin: This is a book about the philosophy, culture, and beliefs of Wiccan religion, a modern day version of a witchcraft based spirituality.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Twenties Girl

October 31, 2012

Author:  Sophie Kinsella

Title:  Twenties Girl

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  435

Geographical Setting:  London, England

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  As if being recently dumped by her long-time boyfriend and struggling to manage a failing new business weren’t enough to deal with, 27 year-old Londoner Lara Lington suddenly finds herself haunted by her recently deceased, 105 year-old, Great Aunt Sadie, whom she had never met and never cared to know.  Sadie has come back as her 23 year-old self:  a beautiful, irrepressible, Charleston-loving flapper from the Roaring 20’s — and Lara is the only person who can see her.  Sadie’s ghost refuses to rest until she recovers a favorite necklace that has mysteriously disappeared from the nursing home where she resided, and she recruits a reluctant and disbelieving Lara to help with the search.  To Lara’s dismay, Sadie has no qualms about putting Lara in increasingly embarrassing situations as she relives the frivolity of her flapper days and assists in the hunt for her necklace.  Despite her frustrations, Lara soon learns that ghosts can come in pretty handy when dealing with competing love interests, high-stakes business dealings, and swindling family members.  In this heartwarming and funny tale, Lara grows to love and respect the Great Aunt she never knew, whom she learns had to cope with heartbreak and family drama not so very different from Lara’s own modern-day troubles.

Subject Headings:  Young women—Fiction; Families—Fiction; Treasure troves–Fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, humorous, lighthearted, romantic, quirky, well-drawn characters, strong secondary characters, family relationships, imaginative, magical, strong language, contemporary, details of London, details of the Roaring 20’s, breezy, chatty, engaging, informal, witty

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book:  humorous, heartwarming, quirky

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Like Twenties Girl, Helen Fielding’s funny, classic chick lit tale tells the story of a young, single London woman struggling to sort out the intricacies of love, family, and career.  Bridget’s quest to achieve inner poise, lasting love, and the perfect weight unfolds in the form of a diary kept over the course of an eventful year.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham

Readers of Twenties Girl who found pleasure in the ghostly interactions between Lara and Great Aunt Sadie and enjoyed learning about a bygone era, may also enjoy this humorous title by Lorna Graham.  Single, young writer Eve Weldon has moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in search of a job, romance, and inspiration for her writing.  Once settled into her new apartment, she finds it inhabited by the ghost of Donald, a member of the Village’s Beat Generation of the 1960’s, who asks for her help in completing his own unfinished work.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Readers who enjoyed the humor, quirky heroine, family drama, and elements of mystery that form the heart of Twenties Girl, may also enjoy reading about the adventures of Stephanie Plum, the incompetent bounty-hunter at the center of Janet Evanovich’s comic mysteries.  In this first title of the series, Stephanie puts her amateur tracking skills to work in an effort to hunt down a former high-school flame who has been accused of murder.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring 20’s by Lucy Moore

Through the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie in Twenties Girl, readers get a tantalizing taste of the attitudes, glamour, and scandal that epitomized the Roaring 20’s.  This title by Lucy Moore provides an enjoyable and entertaining history of the 1920’s, including discussion of the real-life personalities and the many significant social and political changes that came to define the era.

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

A major plot line in Twenties Girl involves Lara’s desperate attempts to win back the boyfriend who dumped her, despite Great Aunt Sadie’s insistence that Lara deserves much better when it comes to matters of romance.  This popular relationship advice manual counsels women on how to stop obsessing about men who don’t really care about them and to instead focus on finding someone who does.

Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side by James Van Praagh

The ghost of Great Aunt Sadie becomes a major influence in Lara’s life in Twenties Girl.  In this title, Van Praagh explores the mysterious world of ghosts and spirits and, through the use of true ghost stores, illustrates how they actively participate in our daily lives.

Becky King

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

Heart-Shaped Box

October 31, 2012

Heart-Shaped Box Book CoverTitle: Heart-Shaped Box

Author: Hill, Joe

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: New York, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Plot Summary:  In this chilling tale that should be read with all the lights on, aging rock star Judas Coyne is no longer touring and releasing album. Instead he spends his time dating Goth chicks, such as his current lady Georgia, and expanding his bizarre, macabre collection of artifacts including a witch’s confession and a snuff film.  So when his assistant Danny mentions an auction for the suit of a dead man that comes with a ghost, Judas is hooked and must have it.  But when the suit arrives, danger and chilling nightmares enter Judas’ life.  He begins to see the dead man everywhere swinging a deadly razor from a chain or rocking in a Shaker chair.  Judas cannot escape the ghost’s hypnotizing presence or the haunting words about taking “a ride on the nightroad.”  It turns out the ghost has a link to Judas’ past and it is out for revenge of the deadliest kind.  As the terror and sense of dread builds, Judas and Georgia are eventually forced to hit the road to face their pasts and solve the mystery surrounding the dead man to avoid the dreaded “nightroad.”  Winner of the Bram Stoker Award, it is a horror novel reminiscent of your favorite classic ghost stories but with a contemporary feel.  You will be wary with each turn of the page as the uneasy, menacing atmosphere builds throughout the story until its satisfying conclusion.  This is a great novel for both newcomers and seasoned veterans of the horror genre, and will have you rooting for its flawed, compelling characters to triumph over evil.

Subject Headings: Ghost stories, Rock Musicians, Suspense Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal Phenomena, Apparitions, Men/Women Relations, Life after death

Appeal:  builds in intensity, atmospheric, chilling, suspenseful, menacing atmosphere, flawed characters, plot twists, well-crafted, uneasy mood, character-driven, creepy, dangerous, haunting, macabre, sense of dread, compelling, violent, engaging characters, foreboding, vivid storyline, descriptive

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Creepy, Flawed Characters, Suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Horror fans and novices can enjoy this classic collection of ghostly stories from a pioneer of the genre.  Here are 16 classic tales to chill the bones and haunt your dreams, and are just as menacing and creepy as The Heart-Shaped Box.

Christine by Stephen King

Go from haunted suit to a haunted car with this classic novel by Stephen King. Written by Joe Hill’s father, here is a similarly compelling and suspenseful horror novel where teen Arnie Cunningham falls in love with a 1958 Plymouth car dubbed “Christine.”  This car is not as simple as it seems, and it starts to haunt and endanger Arnie as well as those around him.  With Christine, you can get to know the work of Stephen King to whom Heart-Shaped Box was dedicated.

Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

A horror story that also has hypnotism and a similar mood, Tom Wallace mockingly agrees to be hypnotized at his brother-in-law’s party.  But when Tom awakens from the hypnotism, he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of those around him.  Even more compelling and terrifying, through this new ability he receives a message from beyond the grave that leads Tom onto a dangerous, creepy path in order to solve the message.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Crap I bought on eBay: 101 Crazy Bizarre, Seriously Weird, Ridiculously Raunchy Items Exposed by Cary McNeal and Beverly L. Jenkins

A great book for those fascinated by the macabre collection of character Judas Coyne.  The book highlights 101 of the craziest things actually bought on eBay by the authors.  Enjoy a mixture of laughter and shock as you browse these real-life items.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil

Get to know the crazy rock n’ roll world of Judas Coyne with this tell-all book about 80’s heavy metal group Motley Crue.  Written by member of the band with the help of music writer Neil Strauss, this book reveals the tours, drugs and alcohol, rock music and sex.  A fun glimpse into a crazy rocker’s world.

Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis by Robin Waterfield

Hypnosis was featured throughout the novel, and with this book you can become more familiar with it.  You will get to know the history, practice and modern uses of this controversial field.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Can’t Stand The Heat

October 31, 2012

Can't Stand The Heat Book CoverTitle: Can’t Stand The Heat

Author: Edwards, Louisa

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 359

Geographical Setting: Manhattan, New York

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Series: Recipe For Love

Plot Summary:  Miranda Wake is a fiery, headstrong food critic who wants to write a behind the scenes book on restaurants.  Meanwhile, Chef Adam Temple is about to open his very own Manhattan restaurant The Market, which focuses on seasonal, local food.  Sparks and tempers fly when a drunken Miranda first meets the deliciously hot-tempered Chef at the preview for his upcoming restaurant.  Blame it on the liquid courage through deceptively strong drinks that she ends up accepting a challenge by the infuriating Chef to spend a month observing and working for him in his kitchen.   The challenge becomes even more interesting when Adam discovers that this infamous food critic can’t actually cook.  As Adam starts giving Miranda cooking lessons at his apartment, the tension and sizzling heat between these two comes into full play.  Miranda starts to get material for her book while also trying to fight her feelings for the deliciously handsome Adam.  Meanwhile, she must also deal with her younger brother Jess who returns to live with her but has some big secrets of his own.  It is a steamy romance novel that also works for food lovers with its mouthwatering descriptions.  There are strong secondary characters, especially with the brother Jess’ storyline.  Romance readers can enjoy the passionate, independent romantic leads and their fiery face-offs in the kitchen as well as the bedroom.

Subject Headings: Love Stories, Restaurateurs, Cooks, Cooking, Women Journalists, Men/Women Relations, Interpersonal Attraction, Secrets,

Appeal: fast-paced, steamy, romantic, lighthearted, witty, strong secondary characters, upbeat, plot-driven, resolved ending, playful, multiple points of view, engaging, conversational, passionate

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Lighthearted, Witty, Steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Enjoy this contemporary romance novel that has a similar funny, upbeat tone and features another bet that places the protagonists together.  Minerva Dobbs has just been dumped by David before her sister Diana’s wedding because she wouldn’t sleep with him.  In order to cheer her up, her friends encourage her to approach handsome Calvin Morrissey.  But she overhears Calvin make a $10,000 bet with now ex-boyfriend David that Cal has a month to get Min to sleep with him.  This sets off a game between Cal and Min as the two characters try to play each other for their own gain.  But things get complicated and steamy when the two actually fall for each other.  Another fun and sizzling romance novel with an engaging group of characters.

Delicious by Susan Mallery

In the first book of Mallery’s Buchanan series, enjoy some more food with your romance as you get to know the characters Penny Jackson and Cal Buchanan.  The Buchanan family’s Seattle Waterfront restaurant is drowning and Cal is given the task of rescuing it.  He needs the best chef to help save it and that happens to be his ex-wife Penny.  Penny warily agrees to help as she tries to hide the fact that she is pregnant, but Cal has secrets of his own as well.  The two former lovers begin working together and suddenly the sizzling chemistry between them has returned.  Can they resist their desire for each other, or will they ultimately succumb to its succulent possibilities?

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Blue Bailey drops everything and moves to Colorado to be with her ex-boyfriend Monty.  But when she arrives, she discovers that Monty has moved on with a beautiful blonde and Blue is now stranded without a job or home.  When she runs into stranger Dean Robillard, she is forced to hitch a ride with this infuriating, handsome stranger who turns out to be the Chicago Bears quarterback.  Enjoy the steamy love scenes, great verbal banter and funny tone of this engaging contemporary romance.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cooking from the Farmer’s Market by Jodi Liano, Tasha DeSerio and Jennifer Maiser

Did you love the descriptions of food and farmer’s market shopping in the novel?  Then you will enjoy this Williams-Sonoma cookbook that teaches you the “farm-to-table cooking” method.  Learn tips on how to shop at local farmer’s market while you try out the seasonal recipes provided throughout the book.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

If you want to know more about food critics and the restaurant world, then give this book a try.  Ruth Reichl was a food critic for New York Times in the 1990s before becoming editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine.  She discusses her experiences at restaurants she visited publicly as well as anonymously for reviews.  Savor the descriptions of her meals at restaurants, while also getting to know the beautiful art of restaurants and sample some of her favorite recipes and reviews.  A book that food lovers will certainly eat up.

Out of Sync by Lance Bass

An autobiography by N’SYNC pop group member Lance Bass that chronicles his life in the spotlight.  This book discusses his childhood, time with NSYNC and stint as a Russian cosmonaut.  But it also deals with Lance’s struggles with his homosexuality, which he attempted to hided from the public until he officially came out at the age of 27.  Here is a book that allows you to delve into a life story that deals with issues that were faced by character Jess in Can’t Stand The Heat.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Heartwood

October 31, 2012

Publication Date: 2011

Author: Belva Plain

Title: Heartwood

Genre: Women Lives and Relationships

Number of Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 1979-1983

Series (If applicable): Werner Family Saga

Plot Summary: The last novel in the Werner Family Saga, Heartwood is a leisurely-paced story about Iris Stern’s family life. Set in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Iris Stern, who is a daughter of a Polish-Jewish immigrant and a professor at a university. Even though she is a modern woman with a successful career, but when it comes to family, she is more old-fashioned. Even when her marriage is unwinding, Iris stays with her husband, Theo. Additionally; Heartwood goes into the adult lives of Iris’s three children, which are two boys and a girl. Although all three of her children are described in the story, it mainly goes back and forth between Iris and her only daughter Laura. Laura married her husband Robbie in college because she was pregnant with her daughter Katie. Laura’s marriage to Robby is on the rocks because she has found success in her catering business and Robby cannot adapt to the fact that she is the breadwinner. The heartwarming novel explains the stories of Iris and Laura’s secrets, hardships and happy moments in their marriages and family life.

Subject Headings: Jewish women – New York City; options, alternatives, choices; family secrets – New York City; Jewish families; Adult children – family relationships; stern family

Appeal: character-driven; detailed; engaging; family-centered; heartwarming; intimate; leisurely-paced; moving; nostalgic; reflective; romantic; straightforward; well-developed

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: family-centered; heartwarming; leisurely-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Pearlman, Ann, Infidelity (autobiography of three generations of a Jewish family and there family secrets)

– Rosen, Ruth, The world split open: how the modern women’s movement changed America (explains why women’s movement changed America,  how women like Iris and Laura can be successful women in the late 1970s into the early 1980s because of the impact of the women’s movement)

– Schulman, Bruce J., The seventies: the great shift in American culture, society, and politics (describes the cultural and political history of the 1970s which is when Heartwood took place)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-, A Women of Substance ( first book of Harte family saga throughout several generations, woman who immigrated from Europe)

– Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden (mother-daughter relationship, secrets of family- history)

– Sullivan, J. Courtney, Maine (three generations of women who have different values, hidden secrets)

Name: Samantha Biegel