Author Archive

Annie on My Mind

June 24, 2010

Author: Nancy Garden

Title: Annie on my Mind

Genre: GBLT Romance

Publication Date: 1982

Plot Summary: Artistic Annie Kenyon is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art singing to herself one day when Liza Winthrop followers her tune and they meet for the first time. The story includes the intimate and passionate hyper-awareness of new love and weaves the confussion of new realizations intricately into the prosaic dialogue. This is a romantic and poignant story of two girls who find themselves and each other. This is a bittersweet story because they feel the need to keep their relationship a secret and thought-provoking events evolve from this issue-oriented book. Will Liza accept her newly discovered orientation? When will she decide to live her life in the open? And what will her family, friends, and the town say? When Liza agrees to house sit her teacher’s pets one week and invites Annie, we find out. With surprising plot twists, this one big flashback to a secret love will keep you reading all night.

Subject Headings: Lesbian — fiction

Appeal:

bittersweet, character centered, compassionate, descriptive w/o overdoing it, engaging characters, episodic, familiar characters, hidden/secretive, intimate (setting), issue-oriented, poignant, prosaic, realistic characters, romantic, sensual, thought provoking, thoughtful, unembellished, well-crafted

3 words to describe book: secret, poignant, engaging

Read a likes:

Fiction

Girl Walking Backwards – Bett Williams

Just like Liza, Skye is lonely and confused until she meets another girl she falls in love with.

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

A famous author that has a similar writing style to Garden, discusses being a teenage lesbian whose mother tries to train her.

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

A bestselling author writes about a man reading a diary to a woman he doesn’t know. The story turns out to be his story of when he was young and in love and their parents kept them apart. Similar because it’s a love story.

NF

Covering: the hidden assault on our civil rights – Kenji Yoshino

This is a memoir that brings into legal aspects of homosexual civil rights.

Love, Ellen: a mother/daughter journey – Betty DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres’s mother writes a memoir about her reaction when her daughter told her she was homosexual, and how their relationship changed and evolved over time.

Jocks: True stories of America’s gay male athletes – Dan Woog

A collection of true stories about athletes that come out to their athletic community, their reactions and relationships, and how coaches did and should respond.

Julie and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously

June 16, 2010

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously

Genre: nonfiction, memoir, best-seller

Publication Date: 2005

Plot Summary:

Just like you should always do your grocery shopping on a full stomach, you should not read this book until after you have eaten. Powell’s delectable descriptions of her cooked meals are short, succinct and sexy. In this memoir, Julie Powell is a women stuck in the vicious circle of temp jobs after failing (or not even really trying) to be an actress in New York. On her latest hysteric breakdown, her husband, encouraging to a fault, suggests she do something that she actually likes, cooking, for example. Julie decides to start a blog about cooking through every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book is cynical, hilarious, self-obsessed and triumphant. For all you horror genre lovers out there, Julie has to stalk lobsters through the boroughs of New York and murder them with knives and boiling water, while they wiggle their innocent little tentacles at her and try to jump the grocery bag.

Subject Headings:

Food Writing; Humore Writing; Autobiography; Memoir; Julie Powell; Julia Child; Women Cooks—anecdotes; French Cooking; Food Habits; Marriage

Appeals: cynical, hilarious, self-obsessed, triumphant, sexual, intimate, urban, dramatic, accessible, profanity, witty, unhurried

3 words to describe book: cynical, funny, appetizing

Read a likes:

Fiction

The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

This novel tells of a cooking class that takes place at a restaurant where the students learn that they need more than just recipes and become involved in each other’s lives. This is if you like a more literary pick.

Cooking for Mr. Right – Susan Volland

At a similar age as Powell, a Seattle chef has a quarter life crisis because of her recent pink slip and break up, so she decides (once again, like Powell) to cook up a scheme to redeem her life.

Deep Dish – Mary Kay Andrews

The Cooking Channel is hiring. Gina wants the job. So does Mr. Kill It and Grill It. He is the ideal candidate, but Gina knows she can take him on… or turn him on? For foodies that also like romance.

Nonfiction

Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Julia Child

A given. Julia Child’s French cook book for American housewives without servents. The book that Julie Powell cooked out of.

My Kitchen Wars – Betty Harper Fussell

If you like historical fiction, this would be a next step. Fussell writes about her personal war with the place of women during and following WW2.

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

Sedaris, a humorist writer, remembers his days living in Paris as an American. (Julia Child also moved to Paris as an American, which is where she started writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) The book is similarly a humorous memoir like Powell’s.

Twilight

June 14, 2010

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Author: Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight (book 1)

Genre: horror / romance / paranormal romance

Publication Date: 2005

Plot Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Bella can tell that she is a burden. She is dramatic, yes, but there is a hint of truth to her complaints. Her stepfather is a baseball player who frequently travels, which makes caring for Bella and switching her around schools all the harder. Her mom also does not want to leave Bella alone. Bella’s best friend is her mother, yet she sacrifices herself to the horridly boring town of Forks, Washington, where her father lives, so her mother can be happy with her new husband.

Bella expects to be the outsider yet again, in this small town setting. But, when she steps foot at her new high school, she already has three guys vying for her attention. Of course, she complains about this too, as she does not like them like that, but thinks they’d make good friends if only they’d stop hitting on her. Her new girl friends completely agree, as they need their share of dates too, and it’s slim pickings in Forks. It is the guy that is seemingly out of reach, edgy, Edward Cullens who sits alone with his odd family staring off into space during lunch, and not eating lunch for that matter, that attracts Bella. Obviously, he is the best looking guy in school, but who would have guessed that it was because he’s a vampire?

Bella falls desperately in love with Edward. But, this may be a good thing, as Bella is extremely klutzy and has a knack for falling into trouble. Edward is there to save her every time. Who is this boy really?  Why does he always show up to save her just in the knick of time? Is he a danger to her or not? Why are the Cullens forbidden from being on Native American territory?

When Bella finds the answers to these questions, it’s too late. She says, “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Seconds, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” It’s all uphill from there, in this suspenseful story, as Edward isn’t the only vampire who likes Bella’s blood. There’s one more that doesn’t exactly agree with the no-human-eating treaty the Cullens have. Can Edward save her this time?

Subject Headings: Vampires—Fiction, High schools–Fiction

Appeals: steady, bleak, dangerous, dramatic, edgy, emotionally-charged, moody, psychological, romantic, sensual, suspenseful, engaging, series (characters), well-developed, small-town, conversational, passionate

3 words to describe book: romantic, paranormal, dramatic

Read a likes:

Fiction

The Illustrated Dracula – Bram Stoker

The original classic with forty gothic-style illustrations. This is a must for the classical background of the vampire culture.

Be Mine Tonight – Kathryn Smith

This pits the Holy Grail and the Cup of Damnation against each other. Chapel has been a vampire for six centuries, lonely, after making a bad decision that led to his situation. Then he meets Prudence, a girl he falls in love with. But, the woman is dying and wants the Holy Grail instead. How will they get what they want and what they need? This is a rather lusty version of Twilight.

Crimson City – Liz Maverick

This is another love story, but between a human woman and a protector. They live in Los Angeles where the protector keeps the humans, werewolves and vampires from coming into conflict with each other.

NF

Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion, and Romantic Obsession – Rosemary Sullivan

Studies how women’s romantic love perceptions are made. The book looks at all types of media and anecdotes. Meant to show “why intelligent women fall in love with the wrong man.” Twilight would be an example of this type of literature that builds perceptions of love through aggressive relationships.

Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality – John Wiley & Sons

Philosophy and how it is structured when it includes vampires as a true entity. This book is interesting to see how Twilight and its contents can fit into some people’s belief systems.

The New Vampire’s Handbook: a Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the Night – Villard Books

The series of handbooks are a new popular got-to-have for fans of paranormal fiction. This satirical and parody of handbooks helps new vampires out in the world they are not accustomed to yet, “such topics as faking one’s way through a human meal, sleeping in coffins, and caring for mortal slaves.”

A War of Gifts-Orson Scott Card

June 7, 2010
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Author: Orson Scott Card

Title: A War of Gifts (third book in Ender Wiggins series)

Genre: science fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Plot Summary:

This book is a novella looking at another perspective in the beginning of the Ender saga. Card’s first book looks at Ender Wiggins, the smartest and smallest kid at battle school. The second book follows Bean, the smarter and smaller kid that can baffle anyone with his intellectual prowess and battle strategies. This third book looks at Zeck Morgan, who was the son of a preacher before being plucked from his religious surroundings and forced to attend battle school, where religion is forbidden because of its time-consuming rituals. Zeck is a pacifist who participates in the educational aspects of the battle school and attends practice battles but will not shoot his gun. The other kids hate him and under estimate his power over the school until he turns the battle ground into a religious war. After one of the kids gives a Sinterklaas present to his fellow Dutch friend after a bout of homesickness, Zeck takes advantage by telling the Muslims in battle school that they are being repressed while Christmas is being celebrated and the participants are not punished. But what does Zeck really want out of his quest? Only Ender can find out.

Subject Headings: Science fiction, Christmas—fiction, Wiggin, Ender (fictitious character)—fiction.

Appeals: descriptive, religiously polical, thought-provoking, character-centered, philosophical, puzzle, emotional, insightful, multiple points of view, series (characters), strong secondary (characters), well-developed, psychological, lighthearted

3 words to describe book: philosophical, puzzle, emotional

Read a likes:

Fiction

First Meetings – Orson Scott Card (book 4)

The fourth book of Ender’s saga, this is a collection of four novellas: The Polish Boy, Teacher’s Pest, Ender’s Game, and Investment Counselor. As the title suggests, this is the first meetings of the characters that are involved in the Ender saga and their beginnings. The fifth book is Ender in Exile, which is a novel, not a novella.

The Forever War – Joe Haldeman

Won the Hugo and Nebula award. The book is a science fiction that shows human behavior during a war period. It also philoshophically entwines the issue of war and people’s personal stances on it, especially the hero in this case who is pushed into leadership just like Ender Wiggin.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar’s dad was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Oskar is nine and his father left him a black key. He undertakes the job to find what his key unlocks. Set in New York City. This is similar because it features a gifted child, Oskar, and how he solves a problem/puzzle in the absence of parental supervision and care.

NF

With God on our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military – Michael Weinstein

This book reveals the illegal religious practices of U.S. Air Force Academy students and officials and how it affects the academy. This is similar to War of Gifts because it takes place at a battle school and shows what happens when religion is oppressed and/or encouraged among cadets.

Hothouse kids: the dilemma of the gifted child – Alissa Quart

Shows what happens when gifted children are measured against high standards and pitted against each other, similar to what happens in Enderverse’s battle school, but in real life!

Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers go to War – Jimmie Briggs

This book documents child soldiers in various countries that kidnap and recruit children as basically bullet sponges to provide human fodder for their religious and political wars. This is similar to the Ender’s series because children are kidnapped and recruited for battle school to fight the Buggers and other aliens in place of adult fighters.

Nathan’s Run

May 26, 2010
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Author: John Gilstrap

Title: Nathan’s Run

Genre: thriller (crime thriller)

Publication Date: 1996

Plot Summary: 12 year old Nathan Bailey is an escaped murderer. He stabbed his prison guard to death and is now on the loose in Virginia. The whole book is based around this basic problem, but goes to different perspectives of the people who get embroiled in the investigation. There is Warren, who is the lieutenant of the local police department and the detective on the case. His own son died the previous year and he is obviously still dealing with his grief as he draws connections between Nathan and his own son, making him more sympathetic to the fugitive as the case unfolds. We see Nathan’s perspective as he is trying to  remain at large and uncaptured, thinks through his crimes and motives, and tells his story to the radio host, “The Bitch.” Monica is the radio host who receives Nathan’s call as she is discussing his escape and murder on her radio show. Nathan’s Uncle Mark, who had custody of him before his initial arrest is featured and he has an interesting part in the plot (which I won’t give away).

Subject Headings:

Boy murder suspects, Orphans, Fugitives, Juvenile justice system, Suspense stories

Appeals: compelling, emotionally-charged, sarcastic, philosophical, archetypal, multiple points of view, character-centered, puzzle, cinematic, episodic, issue-oriented, strong language, thought-provoking, sad, simple, straightforward, jaded

3 words to describe book: fugitive, multiple perspectives, philosophical

Read a likes:

Fiction

The Client -John Grisham

This book is similar to Nathan’s Run, in that a kid is being tracked by organized crime because of a crime he witnessed. This is slightly different in that it is also a lawyer type of thriller. Mark is 11. He witnesses a guy who tries to kill himself by gassing himself in his car in the woods. Mark and his little brother, Ricky, are in the woods at the time. Ricky goes into shock and has to be institutionalized. Mark tries to stop the guy. The man, before he shoots himself, tells Mark that he is a lawyer who was defending a mafia person. The mafia man killed a senator and the lawyer tells Mark where the body is. So now, Mark has to help his brother and save his family, without being killed by the mafia tying up loose ends. The family gets the eccentric lawyer, Reggie Love, to try and end the chaos before they all end up dead.

New York Dead – Stuart Woods

This is the first book in the Stone Barrington series. Stone Barrington is a humble detective in a snotty setting. On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, irresistibly famous and sexy Sasha falls 12 stories from her condo right in front of Stone… He always seems to be in the middle of the action. But, she is still alive. When her ambulance gets into a crash, she disappears. Stone doesn’t believe that Sasha’s lesbian lover is the killer, so he goes beyond the NYPD investigations to find out himself. This is a read alike for those who like melodramtic detective thrillers with sexual undertones.

The Bone Collector – Jeffery Deaver

This is the first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Lincoln Rhyme is the main character throughout these series, who is a criminologist (famous and extraordinary in the novel’s world). He gets in a bad accident which scared him and injured him. He cannot rest, though, because a serial killer is on the loose. He and his side kick Amelia Sachs go through New York City following clues the egotistical killer leaves behind on purpose. This is good if you like another thriller with a sexual tension and a puzzle to solve.

NF

Juvenile – Joseph Rodriguez

This addresses the philosophical controversy thread throughout the book about juveniles in prison, what it’s like, and the issues behind it. In Gilstrap’s novel, the radio host and callers, as well as the detective and his family discuss whether Nathan is to blame and how he should be punished.

Hidden evidence: Forty true crimes and how forensic science helped to solve them – David Owen

This discusses how detectives solve crimes. In Gilstrap’s book, Warren is the detective in the book trying to find Nathan, the boy killer, based on clues and leads he finds throughout the books. Readers would want to see how real detectives do this.

Villains’ paradise: A history of Britain’s Underworld – Donald Thomas

True crime of organized crime, including mafia and gangs. This is for people who like to read about history. It also involves crime, which is the basis for Gilstrap’s thriller.

A Wrinkle in Time

May 23, 2010
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Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Title: A Wrinkle in Time

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fantasy

Publication Date: 1962

Plot Summary:

High schooler Meg Murray does not belong. She does not get along with her teachers, she does not have friends, and everyone is talking about her father. They are saying that he ran away with another women and that is why he stopped writing letters to the family. Meg does not think that is true, but she does not know what is true. Until she, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin see something at the abandoned haunted house in their town and go to explore. There, they meet Mrs. Whatsit, who indeed no one knows what she is. They are told that Mr. Murray is still alive but he is in grave danger and they need to rescue him. Then, they vanish into thin air. It turns out that there are five dimensions. In addition to lines, flat shapes, 3D shapes, and time, there is also the tesserect. Apparently you can fold over time like a blanket and skip whole portions of time to travel faster and within time. This is called the wrinkle in time. It is a rather new concept for Earthlings and the friends are not only confused, they also don’t know how to use it. Once Mrs. Whatsit shows them the dark cloud of evil descending on Earth to take over everyone’s brains and make them all the same with no thoughts of their own, they are dumped on the planet Camazotz where they are told their father is in need of rescue. Why is everyone so normal, but not normal on Camaszotz? Where do they go? And where is their father? Most importantly, once they find him, what do they do?

Subject Headings:

Time travel; Brothers and sisters; Space and time; Good and Evil; Absent; Parents; Dark Energy (Astronomy); String theory; Science fiction; Fantasy fiction

Appeals: measured, engrossing, dark, dangerous, creepy, foreboding, rich, eccentric, well-developed, mystical, sophisticated, detailed-setting

3 words to describe book: Eery, introspective, a puzzle

Read a likes:

Fiction

1) The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

This is also a story about evil making everyone the same, and someone fighting against the system.

2) The Veil of Years – Douglas Warren

This is similar because it is about time travel. But in this, it’s more fantasy because the characters have powers to fight evil with. The history in text books start to disappear and change, and the main character has to restore truth by fixing it.

3) The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

This book also deals with time traveling as a disorder called Chrono-Displacement Disorder that effects a romantic relationship. So, if you like romance this might be a good lead in to fantasy and science fiction.

Non-fiction

1) The New Time Travelers: a Journey to the Frontiers of Physics – David Toomey

Physicists at Caltech try to tackle the age-old question of whether humans can travel backwards in time… touching on famous scientific contributors and current research.

2) Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: the Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time – Robert Gott

Albert Einstein and Kurt Godel did research on time travel before their studies were shunned as fantasy. Read this book to find out what they discovered.

3) Time Traveler: a Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality – Ronald Mallett

This is a scientist’s claim to discovering how to build the first working time machine and the science and math behind it.