Archive for December, 2012

I Am J

December 11, 2012

i am j coverAuthor: Cris Beam

Title: I Am J

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 326

Geographical Setting: Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood

Time period: Present day

Genre: GLBT fiction; Realistic fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: J has always known that he is a boy stuck in a girl’s body. When he was young, he could refuse to be put in dresses and goof around like one of the boys on the playground.  As a teenager, however, J’s body begins to change, forcing him to hide under layers of clothing. Feeling like nobody understands him, not even his best friend, J decides to run away and figure out things out on his own.  On his journey he makes a new friend at a special school for gay and transgender teens, finds romance with a straight female artist named Blue, and learns about testosterone – the one thing that might finally allow him to come out of hiding and become the boy he always knew he was. This is an inspiring story that can be understood by any teenager (or adult) who has ever felt isolated or struggled to embrace their identity, and how to overcome these obstacles on the path to self-discovery.

Subject Headings: Transsexuals – Fiction. Identity – Fiction. Emotional problems – Fiction. Friendship – fiction.

Appeal: Character driven, thought-provoking, inspirational, issue-oriented, compelling, leisurely paced, sobering, descriptive, well-developed characters, moving, urban setting, realistic

Three appeal terms:  Character driven, thought-provoking, issue-oriented

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Luna also tells the tale of a transgender person struggling for self-identity, but this time the reader gets the story from the point of view of another character. Teenager Regan is the only person who knows that her older brother Liam is a transsexual, until he decides to transition and finally shares his secret with his family and friends. Readers who enjoyed the character-driven, issue-oriented tale of J in I Am J will likely get just as wrapped up in Liam’s story in Luna.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

It’s 1968 in a small Canadian town where the parents of a baby born as a hermaphrodite struggle with how to raise their child. The father takes charge, deciding to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. The mother, however, secretly nurtures her child’s feminine side. As Wayne grows up, he realizes that he can’t ignore the part of his self that he thinks of as a girl named Annabel, and finds himself battling to decide with which gender he truly identifies.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

For readers who would like a more cheerful gay-themed book that doesn’t take itself so seriously, I suggest David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. The town where high-school sophomore Paul lives is described in reviews as a “gay utopia,” and this is a very fitting description. It’s no secret that Paul is gay, but nobody cares! He fits right in at this high school where the football team’s quarterback is a cross-dresser and the cheerleading team is made up of a bunch of bikers. This is an upbeat, character-driven book that shows the less serious side of finding and accepting one’s true identity.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam

Written by the same author as I Am J, this is the true story of Beam’s volunteer work at a support center for transgender teens. Beam introduces the reader to four students she meets who are challenged with figuring out who they are and how they are seen by the outside world. Beam’s narrative reveals how the struggles they face are familiar to what we all face – the desire to be comfortable with ourselves and also be accepted by those around us.

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel

GLBTQ teens can find advice, support, guidance and useful information in this valuable resource that has been updated since it was first published in 2003. This book is geared towards young adults who are questioning their sexual or gender identity and may need guidance and support or simply reassurance that they are not alone.

The Privilege of Youth: a Teenager’s Story of Longing for Acceptance and Friendship by David Pelzer

This book is about acceptance, which has been the underlying theme of all of these books. In this inspiring memoir, Pelzer shares his compelling story of an abusive childhood, followed by an adolescence of bullying and longing for acceptance, and how he finally escaped his home life and overcame the struggles he faced his whole life.

Name: Melissa Apple

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1

December 5, 2012

Title: The Walking Dead Compendium (Vol.1 issues 1-48)

Author: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Genre: horror, comic

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: 2009

Pages: 1088

Geographic Setting: Georgia

Time Period: Post Apocalyptic

Series: yes- Walking Dead

Summary: Officer Rick Grimes and his family, as well as a rag-tag group of refugees, have to survive in a zombie infested world.

Subject Headings: zombie apocalypse

Appeal Terms: tense, suspenseful, dystopian world, horrific, supernatural, comic to tv show, survival, graphic, detailed, post-apocalyptic, zombies, bloody, atmospheric, character centered, dark, gritty, violent.

My Three: suspenseful, horrific, survival

Similar Fiction:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (Crown:NewYork, 2006)
A Survivor-eye’s view of the conflict between zombies and humans. If you want a book that is a cross between fiction and nonfiction, and has a touch of history, this is one to try.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009)
The Jane Austen classic with a twist. For those who want to try something different when moving away from the tried and true.

Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore (Skyhorse, 2011)
Told from the zombie’s point of view, Peter Mellor, a college professor, tries to solve his own murder. Interesting because the main character can still pass for human.

Similar Nonfiction:

So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin (Chicago Review Press, 2010)
Like the title says, this is a guide to being a zombie. Not meant to be taken seriously, but could be a nice reference book.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols by Michael P. Spradlin (William Morrow Publishing, 2009)
A spoof of favorite Christmas songs filled with zombies and other horrific bits. If you liked Nightmare Before Christmas, try this one for giggles.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (Three Rivers Press, 2003)
What started out as the basis of an SNL skit turned into a fully comprehensive guide to surviving a zombie attack. Deadpan humor and extremely detailed. Bonus points that this is written by Mel Brooks’ son.

Name: Jennifer

Seventh Son

December 5, 2012

Seventh Son

Author: Orson Scott Card

Title: Seventh Son

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: July 1987

Number of Pages: 241 pgs.

Geographical Setting: Northwestern American Territory

Time Period: Late 18th to early 19th century

Series (If applicable): Tales of Alvin Maker Series; Book One

Plot Summary: Alvin Junior is the seventh son of a seventh son. Such a birth brings to one great powers, even those of a Maker. Evil forces however, are set on killing the child before he can reach adulthood and realize his true potential as a seventh son of a seventh son. This evil force, known as the Unmaker, uses those around Alvin in attempts to kill the child, including his father and Reverend Thrower. There is hope for young Alvin though, a young girl has been acting as a guardian angel, watching over him. She is known as a torch and can see the heartfires in everyone around her. This young girl, along with the help of Taleswapper and Alvin’s family, will help Alvin learn how to best use his powers and relinquish the forces of evil.

Subject Headings: Magic; Healing; Good and evil; Frontier and pioneer life; Maker, Alvin; Guardian angels; Nineteenth century

Appeal: Brothers and Sisters, Historical Figures, Good Vs. Evil, Alternative American Frontier, Religion, Builds in Intensity, Folklore, Fantasy, Hexes, Magic, Guardian Angels, Late 18th to early 19th century

Three appeal terms that best describe this book: Magic, Good vs. Evil, Alternate American Frontier

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Storytelling : An Encyclopedia Of Mythology And Folklore edited by Josepha Sherman  (2008)

If you liked reading about different types of myths and Folklore found in Seventh Son, then you may want to check out his book. It’s a compilation of different Myths and Folklore stories told throughout the world. In these stories you will hear about both good and evil creatures that live among us (so to speak).

2. Children of the West: family life on the frontier by Cathy Luchetti (Apr 2001)

Like in Seventh Son, this book shows you what life was like, for families, back in the early 19th century. Alvin and his siblings worked hard each day to put food on the table even with the help of their special knacks. Read about the daily life and activities of real people who grew up during this time.

3. The arrow and the cross: a history of the American Indian and the missionaries by John Upton Terrell. (1979)

This book recounts how missionaries form the Protestant and Catholic church set out to convert the Native Americans to their own religion and the resistance they received from them. In Seven Sons, Alvin is visited by a Native American Indian who wishes to show him the ways of good. Reverend Thrower wants to fulfill his duty and see to it that a church is build and those in down renounce their beliefs in magic. This book will also give you a good insight on what can be expected in the second book of the Alvin Maker series, Red Prophet.


Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks (Aug 2006)
If you liked reading a story about a young boy who possess powers to save the world from evil you may want to check out this book. Set in a futurist United States, where evil forces enslave survivors of the ruined country, one man sets out to find a child that could save them all.

2. The Briar King by Gregory J. Keyes (Dec 2002)
An evil force of death is reawakening. A monk realizes that the text he is translating contains ancient curses meant to awaken this evil. Only a special lineage can prevent the evil’s take over. Those who have the power to stop this evil fight for their lives. If you like reading a story about good vs evil, a small few banding together to save the world, and folklore, than this book is for you.

3. New Spring by Robert Jordan (Jan 2004)
If you liked reading about the fate of the world resting in the hands of newborn boy, then this book is sure to please. After hearing that a boy born of prophecy, and destined to lead the world against the dark Shadow forces, two men set out to find and protect the infant known as the Dragon Reborn.

Name: Madison Gailus

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

December 5, 2012

Author:  Wes Moore

Title:  The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Biography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  233

Geographical Setting:  primarily in Baltimore (MD), the Bronx (NY), and Wayne (PA)

Time Period:  1982-2010

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  In 2000, Wes Moore read a series of stories in the newspaper about a robbery/homicide in Baltimore; one of the young men arrested and convicted of the crime was also named Wes Moore.  Wes contacted the man, who was serving a life sentence in prison, and discovered through their letters and conversations that they shared much more in common than a name alone.  As boys, both had lived in poor neighborhoods, were fatherless, struggled in school, and had run into trouble with the police- yet their paths would diverge and lead to different ends.  Alternating between their stories, this insightful and thought provoking book follows the lives of the two boys named Wes Moore as they grow up, exposing readers to various factors that would influence their choices and opportunities (or lack thereof).  An extensive resource guide of over 200 youth-serving organizations across the country is provided at the end of the book.

Subject Headings:  Biography/memoir, African Americans, Childhood & youth, Baltimore (MD), Social conditions, Urban life, Family relationships, Life choices, Criminal activities, Prisoners, Education, Military service.

Appeal:  Character-driven, Coming-of-age story, Reflective, Thought provoking, Inspiring, Life choices and expectations, Second chances, Memoir, African American characters, Family relationships, Single-parent households, Mother-son relationships, Mentors, Leadership, Urban street life, Drug dealing & gangs, Baltimore (MD).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Character-driven, coming-of-age story, urban life.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  Readers interested in learning more about the social justice inequities exposed within The Other Wes Moore may want to read this title- it addresses issues surrounding the high rates of incarceration for people of color in our country’s prison system.

2.  The Beautiful Struggle:  A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Both The Other Wes Moore and this memoir are coming-of-age stories about African-American young men, set in Baltimore, and involving life expectations, choices, and consequences.

3.  My American Journey by Colin Powell.  In his book, Wes Moore describes Colin Powell’s memoir as being influential in his life, and more specifically in his decision to join the military.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson.  The Other Wes Moore and this novel are both thought provoking, inspiring, coming-of-age stories in which young men struggle to overcome their circumstances.

2.  Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty written by Greg Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke.  A graphic novel based upon a gang-related murder that happened in Chicago in 1994, this title could be a good match for readers who found the violence, drug selling and gang life depicted in The Other Wes Moore to be compelling.

3.  Slam! by Walter Dean Myers.  Both Wes Moore and the main character (Greg Harris) of this novel are African-American young men who come from tough, city neighborhoods and have to adjust to life at new, mostly white, schools.  In both stories, the young men find supportive mentors who help open their eyes to life’s possibilities.

Name:  Nicole

The Casual Vacancy

December 5, 2012

casualvacancycoverAuthor: J.K. Rowling

Title: The Casual Vacancy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 512

Geographical Setting: English village of Pagford

Time period: Present day

Genre: Black humor; Satirical fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In the quiet village of Pagford, chaos ensues after the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother leaves a vacancy on the parish council. The local election that follows exposes secrets, causes intense battles between families and community members, and leads to unexpected revelations that may change their lives forever.

Subject Headings: City council members – Death – Fiction. Local elections – Fiction. Country life – England—Fiction. England – Fiction. Black humor (Literature).

Appeal: Character-centered, detailed setting, bleak, thought-provoking, engrossing, unsettling, strong language, humorous, multiple points of view, closely observed characters, political

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, bleak, thought-provoking

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Readers who are seeking another bleak read with self-absorbed characters might enjoy An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge. This darkly humorous book also takes place in an English village and involves a bickering town council. The book also centers on young actress Stella, who takes on the job of assistant stage manager at a reparatory theatre company in Liverpool and finds romance with the director of the show.

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

For another darkly humorous, satirical fiction tale that takes place in England, readers should check out Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis. This satire pokes fun at modern society and culture in this story of thug Lionel Asbo, who looks out for his nephew Desmond Pepperdine. While Desmond just seeks a quiet and simple life without any trouble, his uncle’s criminal lifestyle has always gotten in his way, but Desmond has no idea how much worse it will get once Lionel wins big in the lottery.

Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel

Like The Casual Vacancy, Every Day is Mother’s Day is a character-driven book with a darkly humorous tone. This book focuses on medium Evelyn Axon, her daughter, Muriel, and their social worker, Isabel Field, as they all confront their own problems and dark secrets.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

J.K. Rowling: A Biography by Sean Smith

Author J.K. Rowling made a huge name for herself with her legendary Harry Potter series, and had fans eagerly awaiting the release of The Casual Vacancy, her first book for adults. These fans might want to check out a biography about Rowling and learn more about the life of their beloved author. J.K. Rowling: A Biography is the full-length story of her life based on research, interviews, and evaluations of her novels by author Sean Smith. Readers will learn about Joanne Rowling before she became the best-selling author she is today, and the experiences that helped lead her to where she is now.

A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar

Readers who enjoyed the secrets and scandals exposed in fictional work The Casual Vacancy might enjoy reading about actual scandals and true stories of notorious rulers in history. Some of these include Catherine the Great, King George III, and Joanna the Mad.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson

In The Casual Vacancy, politics and social classes played a big role in the story. Readers might enjoy this book because it discusses English society during a period of time in 1911 and covers milestones such as the crowning a new king and paralyzing strikes in the British industry. Also, this book is told from many points of view, much like readers get several different character’s perspectives in The Casual Vacancy.

Name: Melissa Apple