Archive for the ‘Gentle Read’ Category

For One More Day

August 13, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: For One More Day

 Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 197 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This is an inspirational story about Charley “Chick” Benetto, a broken man on the verge of suicide. Chick was a child of divorce forced to choose between his mother and his father. Soon after choosing his father, Chick gets abandoned and bitterly returns to his mother. After her death, a grief-stricken Chick forms a family of his own, but later loses his job, becomes regretful, depressed, alcoholic and eventually lonely and isolated. His daughter’s rejection triggers a suicide attempt that unexpectedly takes him to an ordinary day at his childhood home where he gets a second chance to spend time with his lost mother. During that day Chick learns family secrets, seeks forgiveness, discovers her mother’s self-sacrifices, and regains awareness of the destructive path in his life. Inspired by his mother’s loving guidance he decides to make a change a try to put his life back together.

Subject Headings: Personal Transformations; Loneliness in men; Alcoholics; Nervous breakdown; Mother and adult son; Ghosts; Single mothers; Divorced women; Mothers – Death; Men — Suicidal behavior; Depression in men; Grief in men; Ambition in men; Coping in men.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, gentle, family-centered, homespun style, haunting, hopeful, psychological, moving, nostalgic, dramatic, inspiring, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Family-centered, nostalgic, moving.

***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. In this story, wealthy middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak has mastered isolation by choice. Two incidents force him to reconnect with his family and establish new relationships. Just like For One More Day, this story is psychological and centers on relationships and personal transformation.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. The narrator of this story finds himself in a peculiar abandoned amusement park per her dying fiancé’s request. Guided by a wise groundskeeper, the narrator embarks in a profound psychological journey to self-discovery. This is also an inspirational novel emphasizing past memories, self awareness, and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Blame by Michelle Huneven. Patsy MacLemoore is a young, smart and wild history professor that wakes up once again in jail, this time after running over and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway. She spends several years in jail sobering up, trying to atone for her misdeed until new information turns up to change and bring a different light on her life. Besides its psychological nature, this novel shares Albom’s subjects of alcoholism, guilt and regret, and rebuilding a life.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

           The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In this auto-biographical account computer science professor Pausch thoughtfully reflects about his experience as a terminally ill cancer patient. This is an inspiring choice for readers looking for real life stories of lessons learned, spirituality, family and relationship in adversity, and the pursue of dreams.

           Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life by James Van Praagh. Written by medium James Van Praagh, this book provides thought-provoking information, theories and stories about ghosts and spirits and their experience and relationships with their living loved ones. Chick’s encounter with his lost mother is sometimes described as other-worldly, this may interest those curious about hopeful ghostly messages about healing.

           Living Through the Meantime: Learning to Break the Patterns of the Past and Begin the Healing Process by Iyanla Vanzant. The author describes a “meantime” concept generally fueled by past experiences that tends in cases cause confusion, anger, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, apprehensiveness, etc. For those considering self-help options to heal and get their life back together.

Fanny Camargo

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Espresso Tales

August 1, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Title: Espresso Tales

Genre: Gentle

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland

Time Period: Current

Series: 44 Scotland Street, 2

Plot Summary:

Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street and continues to follow the lives of the tenants, who happen to reside at the address 44 Scotland St.  Readers can catch up with Pat, who had just finished her second gap year, has decided to stay in Edinburgh, Bruce who needs a new job and may give the wine business a try, and gifted 6-year-old Bertie who is starting kindergarten and is forced to wear crushed-strawberry (or pink) dungarees on his first day. The characters, of various ages, form relationships in odd and endearing ways.  This is a lighthearted work that takes turns revealing the story of each of the characters.  By using alternating points of view, the reader is able to see how the different characters reflect on the other residents, and themselves, providing insight and humor.

Subject Headings:

Apartment houses; father and son; friendship; genius; gifted children; men/women relations; mother and son; neighbors; roommates; senior women; women college students; young women

Appeal:

Strong sense of place; amusing; upbeat; engaging; character driven; relaxed pacing; lighthearted tone; humorous tone; flawed characters; recognizable characters; insightful characters; episodic storyline

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place; amusing; relaxed pacing

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Edinburgh: A Cultural and Literary History by Donald Campbell

Alexander McCall Smith captures the city in Espresso Tales, providing a great sense of place.  This work, organized by sections of town provides an introduction to Edinburgh’s history.  For those who want to know more about the town that is the backdrop of this series.

Waiter, There’s a Horse in My Wine: A Treasury of Entertainment, Exploration and Education by America’s Wittiest Wine Critic by Jennifer Rosen

In Espresso Tales one of the characters, Bruce decides to try his luck in the wine trade.  This suggestion is for those readers who may want to know a bit more about the world of wine through a collection of humorous wine critic columns.

Hothouse kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart

This work looks at the consequences that putting too much pressure on gifted children may have.  This could be an interesting book for readers who were invested in Bertie’s difficulties with his mother and would like to learn more about the predicament of gifted children.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber by James Thurber illustrated by Marc Simont

This humorous book is a compilation of short stories detailing the roles the narrator, a meek man, imagines himself in.  Combining illustrations with Thurber’s short stories, as well as including Thurber’s amusing autobiographical essay this book may appeal to those who like the lighthearted introspection that can be found in Espresso Tales.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

In this novel, set during the Great Depression, two young couples meet and befriend one another in Wisconsin.   A stylistically complex and moving novel, this story focuses on the connections that people make, which may resonate with readers who like the unlikely friendships and acquaintances that are made at 44 Scotland Street.

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston

In this book ambitious Quinn, a British Lawyer living in New York City, is put on bed rest for the last three months of her pregnancy.  This character-driven, humorous work has Quinn reflecting on her life, getting to know her neighbors, developing relationships in places she didn’t think she would.  This book may appeal to those who like insight into their characters thoughts as well as those who like circumstances that create unlikely bonds.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.

True Believer

April 4, 2012

Author: Nicolas Sparks

Title: True Believer

Genre: Gentle Read

Publication Date: April 2005

Number of Pages: 322

Geographical Setting: Boone Creek, North Carolina

Time Period: Present

Series: Sequel: At first sight

Plot Summary: New Yorker Jeremy Marsh finds himself in Boone Creek, North Carolina to write a story about a cemetery haunted by ghosts. Marsh is a science writer who has made a name for himself by disproving psychic and paranormal phenomena. In Boone Creek he meets the beautiful but guarded town librarian Lexie whom he quickly finds himself drawn to. The leisurely novel creates a character-centered, heartwarming story that explores opposites attracting despite all odds.

Subject Headings: Men/women relations, Skeptics, Belief and doubt, Journalists, Librarians, Women psychics, Ghosts, Paranormal phenomena, Small town life-North Carolina

Appeal: heartwarming, homespun, bittersweet, conversational, easy, relaxed pace, nostalgic, character-centered, sentimental, rural, gentle

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, character-centered, homespun

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach.

Readers interested in Jeremy’s investigation of the supposed spirits haunting the cemetery might enjoy this accessible, engaging science writing exploring the possibility of an afterlife. Roach’s ability to make science palatable to the everyday reader is akin to the science writing the protagonist does in True Believer.

Knee High by the Fourth of July: More Stories of Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest, by Jean Tennant.

Readers who enjoyed the detail of small town life in the South and the bittersweet exploration of domestic life may enjoy Tennant’s collection of stories about growing up in small towns in the Midwest. The stories are heartwarming and nostalgic, featuring a wide variety of tones.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

Marsh is a New Yorker who has some culture shock to adjust to when he travels to Boone Creek, North Carolina. This true story follows a gay couple as they decide to integrate themselves into the country despite their urban background. Humorous but poignant, the couple ends up overcoming the odds to create a successful farm business.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Call Me Irresistible, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Phillips’s book is another tale of an outsider finding unexpected love. Protagonist Meg is stuck in a hostile, small town in Texas after disrupting her best friend’s wedding when she finds the man of her dreams. Readers who do not mind a more humorous take on a similar plot might enjoy Call Me Irresistible.

The Sunflower, by Richard Paul Evans

After her fiancé calls off the marriage a week before their wedding, Christine decides to volunteer in Peru where she meets an American doctor. Heartwarming and hopeful, Christine’s journey is similar in Lexie’s as she most overcome old wounds to give a new love a chance.

Finding the Way Home, by Sarah Byrd

Byrd’s book is another heartwarming tale of a character picking up and moving to a village setting and finding love and redemption in the process of interacting with a few different secondary characters. Fans of the gentle romance in True Believer may appreciate the more inspirational love story presented in Finding the Way Home.

When Calls the Heart

November 16, 2011

Author: Janette Oke

Title: When Calls the Heart

Genre: Inspirational, Gentle Reads, Romance

Publication Date: 1983

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; Lacombe, Alberta; Pine Springs, Alberta

Time Period: Early 20th century

Series (If applicable): Canadian West series

Plot Summary:  Elizabeth Thatcher has a wonderful life in Toronto with as a school teacher living with her God-fearing, close knit family.  However, when a letter from her older half-brother living across the country in Calgary comes suggesting that Elizabeth might like to teach out West and visit with her family there, she decides to go.  Through a series of mishaps, Elizabeth ends up in a small town with a new school over a hundred miles away from her brother and his family.  Here, she must adjust to life in the small town, start a school, and live on her own for the first time.  Although she did not move across country to find a husband, and in fact had decided that she was not necessarily looking for marriage at all, her plans get turned on their head when she meets Wynn Delaney, a friend of her half-brother’s and a member of the North West Mounted Police.  Through her attraction towards Wynn, her newfound independence, and her new situation, Elizabeth grows in faith, love and confidence in this sweet novel.

Subject Headings: Canada; Toronto; Calgary; Pioneers; North West Mounted Police; Teachers; Rural Life

 Appeal: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural, domestic, sweet, inspirational, gentle, heartwarming, homespun, hopeful, romantic, faithful characters, series characters, folksy, details of Canadian pioneers, accessible, straightforward, unpretentious

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

One-Room Schools of the Middle West: An Illustrated History by Wayne E. Fuller

This title gives the history of one-room schools in the Midwest, including photographs.  Although Elizabeth Thatcher’s school is in Alberta, Canada, this book will give background on how such a school works and shows what her school could have looked like.

Forging the Prairie West  by John Herd Thompson

This title, as part of the Illustrated History of Canada series, discusses the West of Canada where Elizabeth Thatcher goes to live with her brother and his family.  This book should give background on the history of the area and what happened in the time after which Elizabeth’s story is set.

Looking North: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Illustrations: The Potlatch Collection by Karal Ann Marling

This illustrated title provides artwork featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties.  In When Calls the Heart, Wynn Delaney works as a Mountie.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This classic title tells the story of a young girl who goes into the Appalachian mountains as a missionary school teacher.  This romantic, inspirational tale does not gloss over some of the more gritty aspects of living in the area in the early 20th century.  Christy’s work with her school children, romantic interests, and Christian beliefs should interest those who enjoy When Calls the Heart.

A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover

This novel, which takes place in the Canadian frontier, tells the story of two women of different social classes who move to the area to start a new life with their husbands.  This book along with the rest in the series should interest those who enjoy the setting and inspirational Christian nature of Janette Oke’s Canadian West series.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

This classic series should interest fans of When Calls the Heart for a variety of reasons.  A more rural Canadian setting is featured in most of these books along with a strong family life, going to class and teaching in one-room schoolhouses, and the funny, heartwarming and romantic situations that Anne Shirley finds herself in throughout the entire series.

Name: Christi H.

Garlic and Sapphires

August 8, 2011

Author:  Ruth Reichl

Title:  Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  333

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  1990’s

Plot Summary:  Fresh from L.A. in the early 1990’s, Ruth Reichl landed every foodie’s dream job: she became the restaurant critic for the New York Times.  Reichl quickly discovers that every fine dining establishment has her photo posted and monetary rewards are being offered to anyone who knows which restaurant she will be visiting next, compromising her ability to write an objective review.  To reclaim her anonymity, Reichl creates elaborate disguises to use when dining out, including a slightly overweight Midwestern teacher, a vivacious middle-aged hippie, a breathy Marilyn Monroe-like blond, and a meek old lady.  Garlic and Sapphires follows Ruth through New York City’s most exclusive restaurants and examines how outward appearances can affect how the world treats you.  Both humorous and insightful, Reichl’s memoir is full of the “artifice and excellence” of the restaurant experience, including vivid (and utterly delicious) descriptions of the food she ate.  In addition, her narration is peppered with the original New York Times reviews and personal recipes.

Subject Headings:  Autobiographies; Food Writing; Food Memoirs

Appeal:  Humorous, insightful, thought provoking, colloquial, descriptive, vivid, episodic, charming, upbeat, richly detailed, lush, straightforward

3 terms that best describe this book: charming, upbeat, lush

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York by Williams Grimes:  Written by the restaurant critic that succeeded Reichl at the Times, Appetite City examines New York’s food history from the 19th century through the restaurant culture of the early 21st century.  Like Reichl, Grimes provides the reader with his personal experiences dining in what many proclaim to be the “food capital of the world.”

Eat my Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything by Simon Majumdar:  Internationally-renowned food blogger Majumdar humorously chronicles his adventures experiencing cuisine from every continent (except Antarctica).  With a fearless
approach to food (he samples Mongolian fermented mare’s milk), Majumdar describes his meals in lush detail.

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food by Jane and Michael Stern:  Like Reichl, Jane and Michael Stern are major foodies, but instead of four-star restaurants in New York City, they travel the back roads of America, seeking out mom-and-pop diner cuisine.  Upbeat and humorous with vivid descriptions of unpretentious meals, Two for the Road chronicles Jane and Michael’s episodes of eating their way across the United States.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Butter Did It: A Gastronomic Tale of Love and Murder by Phyllis C. Richman:  Written by the restaurant critic for the Washington Post, this upbeat cozy mystery features restaurant critic Charlotte (Chas) Wheatley, who decides to investigate the suspicious death of her former French-chef lover.  The Butter Did It contains vivid descriptions of savory dishes that would make
any foodie’s stomach growl.

Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge:  At first, food writer Eleanor Samuels’s world is torn apart when she becomes caretaker to her Uncle Benny, but as she cooks for and nurtures her Uncle, she uncovers family secrets, and finds a way to come to terms with herself and her past.  Rich, charming, and humorous, Shortridge gives readers a delicious novel, ending with a food manifesto titled, “How to Eat.”

Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson:  As France’s premier restaurant critic lies in his deathbed, he remembers past meals in search the one perfect flavor from his youth – the flavor that is “the only true thing ever accomplished.”  Lush culinary prose peppers scenes (both charming and sad) alternately narrated by the critic and his family (including the cat).

Name:  Mieko Fujiura

Three Bags Full

August 1, 2011

Author: Leonie Swann

Title: Three Bags Full

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date:2005

Number of Pages:341

Geographical Setting: The village of Glennkill, Ireland

Time Period:1999

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: All is not well in the cozy village of Glennkill when shepherd George Glenn is found dead in his very own pasture, a garden stake protruding from his chest.  With no clues or witnesses, the investigation into his murder seems to go nowhere, that is until his beloved flock of sheep decide to get involved.  His flock, led by Miss Maple “the smartest sheep in all of Glennkill (and perhaps the world),” decide to launch an investigation of their own, vowing to bring George’s killer to justice.  After piecing together the details of his murder they face only one problem—how in the world will they communicate their findings to the inattentive, dim-witted townspeople?  Swann paints a picturesque setting in this witty tale of quirky, eccentric characters, giving readers a bold, unique take on the mystery genre.

Subject Headings:
German Fiction, Mystery Stories, Sheep—Fiction, Murder—Investigation—Fiction, Shepherds—Fiction, Shepherds—Crimes against—Fiction, Rural life, Detective fiction

Appeal: leisurely-paced, gentle tone, humorous, eccentric characters, quirky, domestic storyline, imaginative, investigative, details of pasture landscape, intimate, rural, strong sense of place, style/language is accessible, conversational, smart, witty

3 terms That Best Describe This Book: humorous, quirky, witty

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Living with Sheep: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Flock—Chuck Wooster & Geoff Hansen (to provide more information about sheep flocks, intimate details on keeping sheep happy, gives an account from a person not immersed in agriculture and farm animals, so it’s more relatable to a broader audience)

The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland–Chrisopher Fitz-Simon (a picturesque view of some of Swann’s descriptions, to provide readers with more information about visiting Ireland, has a rural focus)

Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet–Catherine Friend (memoir about shepherding, includes details on the history of shepherding, witty writing style, humorous tone)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dog about Town—J. F. Englert (features a smarter than average animal, features an amateur detective, humorous tone, mystery story)

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency—Alexander McCall Smith (1st in the series) (gentle tone, strong sense of place, humorous tone)

Seeking Whom He May Devour: Chief Inspector Adamsberg Investigates—Fred Vargas (2nd in the series) (mystery fiction that takes place in Europe, features attacks on sheep, features the murder of a sheep breeder, versatility in pleasing both cozy and hard-boiled mystery fans)

–Jessica Bartz

The Chili Queen

July 25, 2011

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A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s by Katherine Valentine

April 20, 2011

Author: Katherine Valentine
Title: A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s
Genre: Inspirational Fiction, Gentle Reads
Publication Date: 2002
Number of Pages: 278
Geographical Setting: Dorsetville, Connecticut; New England
Time Period: Contemporary
Series: Dorsetville Series

Plot Summary: Katherine Valentine has been critiqued by some for imitating Jan Karon’s popular Mitford series, however, A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s will warm the hearts of many who love a wholesome and gentle read with a Catholic spin. The novel tells the story of the residents of the town of Dorsetville, Connecticut in the New England area from the perspective of Father James Flaherty who is in a dire predicament. The Archdiocese wants to shut down the town’s beloved church because of declining membership and its inability to sustain itself. Yet, the story envelopes into the characters’ lives well so that we, as the reader, don’t want the church to close either. The residents and the priest try to come up with ideas to save the church and through an accidental miracle, faith is restored and lives are changed. This is the first in the Dorsetville series by Valentine who also tells us her story of renewed life in the acknowledgements that certainly provide some additional wealth to the story.

Subject Headings: Catholic Church, Clergy, Small town life, Eccentrics, Faith, Compassion, Miracles; Dorsetville, Connecticut New England (U.S.); St. Cecilia’s Church, Church, Mill town, Small town; 2000s, 21st century; Fiction, Christian, Inspirational; Eccentric; Priest

Appeal: Christian, Catholicism, inspirational, saintly, gentle, heartwarming, soft, kind, compassionate, religious, overcoming obstacles, uplifting, touching, faithful, miraculous, light humor, small-town life, close-knit community relationships, sugar sweet, tender

3 terms that best describe this book: inspirational, heartwarming, touching

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Catechism of the Catholic Church is a book used in many classrooms and teachings to help those interested in becoming Catholic or just want to learn more about the religion. It is put out by the US Catholic Church and includes an index so you can look up certain topics. Readers on Amazon.com have responded that this is an easily readable and understandable book.

Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time by Jane Knuth tells the true story of Jane who takes up volunteer work at a St. Vincent DePaul thrift store in Kalamazoo, MI. Through her experiences, she talks about the fulfilling and touching stories that filled her days by helping shoppers of the store.

The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do by Ed Dobson tells us the story of how Dobson took one year to literally interpret the Bible and its teachings. Through his journey, he discovers compassion, humility and faith in a likeable and enjoyable format of diary entries and prose.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Jan Karon’s Mitford Series is another heartwarming series of novels who readers will enjoy for a soft and gentle series of characters and stories. The first in the series is At Home in Mitford which tells the story of the main character, Father Tim, at home in the small North Carolina town of Mitford, and what is described as ordinary people with ordinary lives. Christian and inspirational fiction lovers will find this series comforting.

In another series called Song of Erin, for readers who are looking for additional inspirational fiction surrounding Catholicism, yet would enjoy a more historical tale, B. J. Hoff writes about the saga of an Irish-American family and their escape from poverty and tragedy in Ireland to a new life in 1800’s New York City. Cloth of Heaven is the first in the series.

The book, In the Land of Second Chances by George Shaffner is described by BookList as a cross between Touched by an Angel and The Five People You Meet in Heaven and is the first in a series of books surrounding one of the main characters, Wilma Porter. The novel is about the residents of small town Ebb, Nebraska and with the help of a stranger, discover hope, faith and strength in overcoming obstacles.

-Jennifer Peterson