Author Archive

Night

November 28, 2012

Author: Elie Wiesel
Title: Night
Genre: Memoir
Publication: 2006
Number of Pages: 120 pages
Geographical Setting: Europe- Germany
Time Period: 1933-1945
Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

Wiesel writes what seems to be his own autobiography through the eyes of the narrator -Eliezer.  We get a first person narrative of events of the holocaust as Elies takes us through the Nazis invasion of Hungary in 1944.  To the rude awakening of the Jews, a lot of oppressive and stringent laws are created to oppress the Jews forcing them into the ghettos. From then, there are imposed restrictions and eventual massive deportation of the Jews as prisoners by cattle cars to Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.   On getting to camp, Elie is separated from his father during “selection”. From then on we get a detailed  account of the horror, hardship and inhumanity as suffered by Elie Wiesel and his family and the rest of the Jews. Babies are burned in the ditch, hundreds of Jews burned in the crematoria. Prisoners are stripped naked and exposed to extreme weather condition, most people die from malnutrition and disease.

In the end, we see a broken down man, his spirits crushed which causes him to question his faith in God and in his fellow men.
A gut wrenching read, will appeal to those curious about the holocaust.

Subject Headings:
God (Judaism), Wiesel,  Elie, 1928, Birkenau Extermination Camp, Auschwitz (Concentration Camp), Jewish teenage boys, Holocaust survivors, Belief and doubt, Loss, Holocaust, Jewish (1933-1945) – Personal narratives

Three Appeal Terms:
Moving, Disturbing, Gruesome

Appeal:
Reflective, Moody, Haunting, Menacing, Disturbing, Bleak, Gut wrenching, Engaging, Thoughtful, Descriptive, Compelling, Candid

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gratitude by Kertes, Joseph

Another gripping account of the events of the holocaust, but this time the story is based in Hungary.  We learn more about the atrocities committed against the Jews but with a different story line and complex plot twists than the Night.  Will make a great read for those yearning for more holocaust stories.

Schindler’s list by Keneally, Thomas
Schindler’s story is retold by Keneally about his life how he – Schindler a German saved more than a thousand Jews working for him during the holocaust. For those interested in the events of the holocaust, this books brings a different perspective judging from Schindler’s  acts of goodwill.

The jade peony by Choy,  Wayson

A poignant tale of the recollections of an immigrant Chinese family in Chinatown – Vancouver before and during World War II.  The story is told from the eyes of the three young children about the difficulties, sorrows and loss they felt while growing up.  This is another alternative for readers interested in the theme of persecution, suffering and survival as in Night.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

The diary of a young girl: the definitive edition by Anne Frank
This book chronicles the personal experiences of Anne Frank and her family as they hide from place to place during the holocaust.  A more convincing account of the reality of the holocaust for those doubtful of the Night.

Maus: a survivor’s tale by Spiegelman, Art
Portrayed in a Graphic format, the author tells the story of his family’s experiences during the holocaust.  How they bounced from place to place, their hardship and survival.  Using animals in this format is a creative and effective way to depict such sorrowful events and will appeal to readers who love Graphic novels.

Holocaust: the events and their impact on real people by Wood, Angela
Find a collection of true stories of children who experienced first hand events of the holocaust.  Not only do we find each harrowing and gripping account of the suffering during this period, but we see  detailed analysis of events  leading up to this sadism and cruelty.  Great history collection.

The Help

November 28, 2012


Title: The Help
Author: Stockett, Kathryn
Publication Date:2009
Pages:464 pages
Geographical Setting: Jackson, Mississippi
Time Period: The Sixties (20th century)
Genre:Historical fiction
Series: N/A

Plot Summary:
The author tells a sombre story using three women’s perspective as they share their experiences in Jackson, Mississippi in the mid 60’s. Aibileen and Minny are African American women working as maids in white holds. Aibileen, though has had her own share of personal tragedies, however she is dutiful, loyal and loves the white children she takes care of. Minny on the other hand is sour, resentful and does not hesitate to speak her mind. Skeeter, a young white graduate has an inner struggle about finding who she is and settling down like all of her friends. As the story develops, Skeeter an aspiring writer, feels compassion for the plight of these black maids as they are mistreated while working for these families. She tries to convince the maids to tell their story about how it feels to cook, clean and take care of these white children under such degrading circumstances. As we learn about these women’s lives, we also get an insight into the racial prejudice and discrimination in the the south during the mid 1960‘s. The story moves very fast urging you to follow the characters they develop to find out what eventually happens.
Despite the evocation of sadness and melancholy in the story, the occasional interjections of humor help liven up the overall tone of the book.

Subject Headings: African-American women, Civil Rights Movement, College graduates,
Domestic workers, Housekeepers, Interracial friendship, Race relations, The Sixties (20th century)

Three Appeal Terms: Fast-paced, Compelling, Thought Provoking,

Appeal: Touching, thought-provoking, humorous and compelling, provocative, lively, dialect-rich, upbeat, moving, strong sense of place, engrossing, captivating, Fascinating

Fiction Read-Alikes:

The healing by Odell, Jonathan
A historical fiction – a personal account of a former slave’s experiences during pre civil rights movements in the south. This is a great read alike for those who truly enjoyed The Help and are curious about the lives of the slaves and how they coped.

We are all welcome here by Berg, Elizabeth
Here again, like the The Help we find three women but facing different types of struggles and survival – a bedridden mother, a teenager looking for freedom and an African American caregiver. The author portrays the relationship between race and class during the civil rights movements. This book would appeal to those interested in women’s quest for survival under grave circumstances, but with a lighter tone than in The Help.

Roots: the saga of an American family by Alex Haley
This award winning novel takes you right into the authentic story of slavery portrayed by this African American family. You follow the protagonist Kunte Kinte directly from capture in Africa, his resistance and eventual arrival and forced into slavery. This story spans seven generations of this family recounting their history through work in plantation, civil war and reconstruction period.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Song in a weary throat: an American pilgrimage by Murray, Paulie
Find a real personal account of Pauli Murray on the civil rights movement, women rights and advocacy. This will appeal to those who would like to learn more about race integration and major works on women’s rights.

Civil rights movement: people and perspectives by Michael, Ezra
For those who are interested in civil rights movements and its effect on the nation, this is a great resource. The book is comprehensive and gives various perspectives on the events of the civil rights era.

W.E.B. DuBois: biography of a race, 1868-1919 by David Levering Lewis
The biography of DuBois is an intelligent and detailed work. It is a great resource with in-depth account and analysis of the history of racism, civil war and civil rights movements. A well researched book and a credible source. Those intrigued by the level of racism and prejudice as portrayed in The Help would appreciate this resource.

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.

The Day of the Jackal

October 3, 2012

Author: Frederick Forsyth
Title: The Day of the Jackal: 40th Anniversary Edition
Genre: Historical Thriller
Publication Date: May 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Geographical Setting: Europe – London, France, Germany
Time Period: 1960’s

Plot Summary:

A theme with an urgent matter shrouded in secrecy. The events takes place in the 1960’s Europe – a page turner that keeps you at the edge of your seat. The story unfolds gradually and builds in intensity. A couple of unsuccessful attempts had previously been made to assassinate Charles de Gaulle, President of France by some disgruntled members of the opposition group. Eventually, a decision is reached for a final assassination attempt-which has to be fool proof. An unknown, one man professional killer is hired to do the job. To keep his identity secret, he would take on a code name-The Jackal. Secret meetings are held, payment arrangements made and the killer let loose. As we get a step by step account of how the killer prepares for his job, tension gradually builds up. The government authorities somehow learn of the plot, this then sets off a roller coaster of events, leading to an intense man hunt for the assassin which moves the story at a very rapid pace. The various plans and schemes on how to capture the assassin are shrouded in secrecy making the story all the more suspenseful. As the story progresses, you are nervous as you watch the killer just one step ahead of the police. The book has multiple plots told from an omniscient point of view. This allows the reader to see into the minds of all the characters which adds to the tension. Each chapter ends with a cliff hanger increasing the sense of anticipation. Background details and era are well portrayed by use of such elements as “rotary” phones and “Citroen” cars. You also hear frequent use of French and Germain during dialogues. This is a must read for any thriller fan- this book has you on edge the entire time!

Appeal terms:
Gripping, intricately plotted, compelling, engrossing, insightful, informative, engaging, multiple plot, tense, suspense, thrilling, edgy, plot-driven

3 Terms that best describe the book:
Suspense, thrilling, intricately plotted

Subject terms:
Assassinations, assassins, attempted assassination, British in France, Conspiracies, Detectives, Disguises, Secrete agents, the sixties (20th century) Secret service, Intelligent officers, France

3 Fiction read-aikes:

The Columbus Affair: A Novel – Berry, Steve

This is another suspenseful historical thriller that deals with kidnapping, lies and murders. Similar to The Day of the Jackal, a strong sense of the unknown pervades the story with the protagonist being an unknown investigator with no background, no history and no trails who embarks on a treasure hunt. The story also takes place across country lines from Florida across Europe and Jamaica with a strong historical feel – landscapes and culture. And just as in The Day of the Jackal, the book ends with a mysterious twist and leaves you with question to ponder. I believe readers of The Day of the Jackal would enjoy such similar elements.

Private games By: Patterson, James

Those who loved the lone villain theme in Day of the Jackal would also enjoy this book as it incorporates an investigative one man chase. The book has a modern feel which some might appreciate. A page turner, with complicated story line.

The Innocent by David Baldacci

A thriller as The Day of the Jackal. Set in America, a hit man is sent to eliminate a target and-something goes wrong. Action packed with a lot of twists and turns. Those who loved the The Day of the Jackal but would prefer an American setting would welcome this.

Non –fiction read-alikes:

The murder of King Tut by James Patterson

This book delves into the controversial murder of King Tut. In a fast paced narrative, Paterson gives a look into the mystery surrounding the death of the Egyptian king. Also a page turner, mysterious and controversial.

Kill or Capture by Matthew Alexander

This is a thrilling true story of how the task force chased down an Al Qaeda leader. The book is a compelling personal account of all the interrogations that went on in this capture. Those mystified by works of the OAU and the police department in The Day of the Jackal would appreciate this insight.

Confessions of a Hit man by John Perkins

Anyone interested in real life account of shady deals in the American corporations and its effect in the global market would love this. Just as the various issues pertaining to the SAC , OAU the Germans etc. found in The Day of the Jackal –