Boyfriends with Girlfriends

November 28, 2012 by

Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Author: Alex Sanchez

Title: Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Genre: Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ

Publication Date: April 2011

Number of Pages: 224 pages

Geographical Setting: Suburban USA

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Lance has known he was gay his whole life. Sergio considers himself bisexual but has only really dated girls. A meeting online will spark an instant attraction for these two high schoolers. They agree to meet up and each brings along a friend. Lance brings Allie, his straight female friend of years, who is currently in a relationship. Sergio brings along Kimiko, his lesbian friend  who also happens to be Japanese. The two girls and the two guys hit it off right away. Sparks fly on both ends but things get complicated when Lance starts to push Sergio into a relationship he’s not ready for. Meanwhile, Allie is struggling with her current relationship and her newly discovered feelings for Kimiko. Can these two pairs of lovebirds find a way to make it work? A fast-paced read with lots of dialog will have you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Subject Headings: Lesbian teenagers, Bisexual teenagers, Identity (Psychology), Interpersonal relations,  Dating (Social customs), Homosexuality, Best friends, Teenagers

Appeal: Teenagers, Lesbians, Bisexual, First Kiss, High School, Family Relations, Dating, Angst-Filled, Poetry, Love, Identity, Slang-Dialog

Three appeal terms that best describe this book: Teenagers, Homosexuality, Relationships

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994) by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was cited as inspiration for Kimiko when she was writing her poetry. If you liked reading some of Kimiko’s poems in the novel then you would probably enjoy reading poems by the author who inspired her.

2. GLBTQ: the survival guide for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens (Jun 2003) By Kelly Huegel
For anyone struggling with being homosexual or bi, this book is for you. It offers advice from teens and professionals, real-life experiences, and information on support groups.

3. Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens (Jun 2011)
If you ever had questioned whether your best friend was gay or straight, this book will help you figure out that answer. Just like when Lance was really questioning Sergio’s bisexuality, you too can find answers to your questions.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.Girl Friends: The Complete Collection 1 (Oct. 2012) By Milk Morinaga
If you want to know more about “girl panic” the girl love manga that Kimiko gave to Allie, then you may want to check out this manga series by Milk Morinaga

2. The Bermudez Triangle (Oct. 2004) by Maureen Johnson
If you liked reading about two girls falling for eachother, then you may want to check out The Bermudez Triangle. Its a story about three high school friends and the challenges they face when two of them fall in love.

3. Boy meets boy (Sept. 2003) by David Levithan
If you liked reading about Lance and Sergio’s highs and lows in their relationship then this book is for you. A story about two males trying to work things out after an incident tears them apart.

Name: Madison Gailus

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The Paternity Test

November 27, 2012 by

Author: Lowenthal, Michael

Title: The Paternity Test

Genre: GLBT Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 277

 Geographical Setting: Manhattan (NY), CapeCode (MA)

Time Period: Modern Day

 Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Michael’s Lowenthal The Paternity Test is an incredibly realistic and engrossing story of a gay couple who after almost a decade of their relationship is trying to have a baby through surrogacy. The storyline seems difficult but quite ordinary nowadays, yet because of its complex and deep characters, it quickly becomes a page-turner with multilayered issues of love, parenthood, trust and betrayal. Stu and Patrick are in a long-term relationship. They move from Manhattan’s night life to quiet and peaceful CapeCab, where Stu, a freelance writer hopes to start a family with his partner Pat, an airline pilot. In spite of their love, they used to keep their relationship open; therefore, the leading motivation of having a baby and reconnecting again stays relevant to all couples, gay and straight: does a baby save a marriage? This old cliché is universal for so many couples. However, the dynamics between the characters will never be the same after a decision is made. Consequently, the Brazilian surrogate, beautiful and friendly Debora, has her own obstacles to overcome, and she becomes Pat’s closest confidant. Pat’s family is also very complex characters with straightforward and often conventional, based on their Jewish faith, way of thinking. This novel will take the reader by surprise. The added complications to the couple’s own relationship occurs when one looks for validation and the other for stability and everlasting love,  which makes the story and its rather abrupt ending an eye-opener while exposing our own fears and unexpected life’s twists.

 Subject Heading: Gay couples, Gay and Lesbian Parents, Fatherhood, Surrogate Mothers, Conflict in Marriage, Adult Relationships, Parenthood, Loyalty.

 Appeal: emotional; provoking; realistic and complex characters; multilayered plot; gay community; commitment; contemporary setting; thoughtful; inspirational.

 Three Terms for Book: thoughtful and beautiful portrayal of love; complex and realistic characters, and provoking page-turner.

 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 1. Lynn,      E. Harris, I Say a Little Prayer – The      new look on the difficulties of homosexuality and faith in      African-American church. The story of a successful      businessman in contemporary Atlanta      and his struggle with his own identity, betrayal, and passion for music.

2. Schwab,      Rochelle Hollander, A Departure From      the Script – The story of traditional Jewish parents who find out that      their 25 year old daughter is a lesbian. Their refusal for her wedding and      denial of her sexual identity is only beginning of this compelling story,      and parents who learn how to accept their child’s choices.

3. Trumble,      J. H., Don’t Let Me Go – written      with a beautiful style story of a teenage love. Two young men are inseparable      since their high school years, despite their sudden separation while one      is seeking an education in distant state. A remarkable novel about genuine      love, but also loss, and hate. Library       School Journal named      it a great addition to GLBT collection “for teens      that are looking for a gay love story that explores a relationship in the      same way that straight love stories do.”

 

 Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

 1. Griswold, Sara, Surrogacy Was the Way: Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their Stories – Intended mothers is a term used to describe ‘mothers to be’ by the surrogacy. This extremely sensitive and quite difficult subject is a choice for many women nowadays. They provide information and new perspectives through individual stories of mothers as an option to become a parent.

2. Huegel, Kelly, GLBTQ: the Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens – The book was published for the first time in 2003 and reedited several times, and is answering questions among teenagers seeking guidance, information, and support while making choices about their own sexual identity.

3. Rauch, Jonathan, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America – Since gay marriage became legal for the first time in 2004 in Massachusetts, it is still perpetual and controversial matter in many other U.S. states. The author explains by a range of logical, wise arguments the importance of same-sex marriage in the country.

 

 

When the Emperor Was Divine

November 27, 2012 by

Author: Julie Otsuka

Title: When the Emperor Was Divine

Genre: Historical Fiction, Multi-cultural

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 144

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: 1942-1945

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This is a historically detailed story about a family that was in the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. The novel, which is written in third person, begins with the mother and two children still at home after their father was arrested. This was a few months before the rest of the family goes to the internment camp. The rest of the novel the characters reflect there unfortunate journey and lives while in the Japanese Internment Camp and their lives after the war. Even though living in the internment camps for over three years was horrible, it was bittersweet because they have pleasant moments and dreams. This family-centered novel provides the readers with a character-driven perspective of the lives in the internment camps in the United States during the Second World War

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans – Mass internment, 1942-1945; World War II – California; Japanese-American families; concentration camps — California

Appeal: atmospheric; bittersweet; character-driven; closely observed; detailed setting; emotionally intense; family-centered; historical details; leisurely paced; multiple points of view; nostalgic; reflective; richly detailed; strong sense of place; thought-provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bittersweet; family-centered; historical details

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Davenport, John C., The attack on Pearl Harbor: The United States enters World War II (explains the historical details of how and why the Japanese were put into the internment camps)

– Grant, Kimi Cunningham, Silver like dust: one family’s story of America’s Japanese internment (an actual individual family-centered account of the internment camps)

– Grapes, Bryan J., Japanese-American internment camps (several articles and stories of people who were in the internment camps)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Appanah-Mouriquan, Nathacha, 1973-, The last brother (bittersweet, family-centered, World War II story)

– Finney, Ernest J., California time (family-centered story about a Japanese American families relationship with Portuguese and Italian families, and how World War II affected the relationship)

– Salisbury, Graham, Eyes of the emperor (thought-provoking, Japanese American story during World War II, story through the eyes of individual who fought in the war and was still discriminated against)

Name: Samantha Biegel

One Better by Rosalyn McMillan

November 27, 2012 by

Author: Rosalyn McMillan

Title: One Better

Genre: African American Literature, Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 360

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1990s

Plot Summary:  Having come from a life of abuse, drugs, prostitution, and poverty in Mississippi, the Witherspoon family and their friends have succeeded in creating thriving restaurant and development businesses in Michigan. The author eloquently tells the story of the lives of Spice, Sterling, Mink, Otis, Carmen Enriquez, and Golden Westbrook as they struggle with their successes and failures, addictions to drugs and alcohol, tragic accidents and death. Individuals interested in reading about the redevelopment of Detroit may really like this book. However, there is a lot of explicit sex and drug dealing, so it is not recommended for teenagers.

Subject Headings: Family, Detroit, MI, Illegal Drugs, African American Women, Restauranteurs, Domestic Fiction, Love Stories

Appeal terms:  measured pace, dramatic, episodic, realistic, detailed, melancholy, well-developed, explicit sex, family-centered, urban, literary, details of drug and alcohol addiction

Three appeal terms: family-centered, urban, details of drug and alcohol addiction

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston- This book is about the life and marriages of an African American Woman in the 1930s.

The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan- Terry McMillan is Rosalyn McMillan’s sister. Both authors write about the lives of African Americans. This book is about a woman, her marriage, and her family as she struggles with the idea of being a perfect wife and mother. Terry McMillan is best known for her books, Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker- This is the story of 20 years in a woman’s life as she experienced abuse and rape by her father and husband.

Non-Fiction:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- This is the autobiography of the poet, Maya Angelou. The book is about the painful stories that she experienced as a child.

Terry McMillan by Bruce Fish- This is the biography of Rosalyn McMillan’s sister. It tells the story of how she survived a violent childhood to become a bestselling author of books and the screenplays for the movies.

The Honeymoon’s Over: True Stories of Love, Marriage and Divorce edited by Andrea Chapin and Sally Wofford-Girand- This is a book of essays by female authors, including Terry McMillan, about love marriage and divorce.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

November 7, 2012 by

Spook CoverTitle: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Author: Roach, Mary

Publication Date: 2005

Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: This world or the next

Time Period: Present Day

Genre: Nonfiction, Science Writing

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  With a heavy dose of wit and humor, Mary Roach examines the subject of life-after-death, delving into the science and the history of humanity’s search for the soul.  Roach’s search for evidence finds her to some curious and oftentimes hilariously strange circumstances—tracking down stories of reincarnation in India, examining “ectoplasm” at Cambridge, medium school—leading the reader on an amusing quest for the truth amongst the odd and the misguided.  Each chapter ends with a teaser that leads smoothly into the next making for compelling read.  And Roach’s ability to esteem both quacks and true scientists equally is charming and wonderfully engaging.  But readers looking for solid evidence and definitive answers beware.  Spook is impressively researched and deftly told.  It doesn’t promise enlightenment.  But it does infuse a great sense of wonder and delight into the world of science.

Appeal Characteristics: humorous, spiritual, scientific, accessible, witty, engaging, funny, well-researched, quirky, unconventional, thought-provoking, engrossing, unpretentious, smart, entertaining, history of science

Subject Headings: Life after death, soul, paranormal phenomena, Religion and Science

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Funny, scientific, engaging

Similar Non-fiction:

The Disappearing Spoon, and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean

Readers who enjoyed Roach’s obscure anecdotes in Spook will find a wealth of similar stories in this tale about the building of the Periodic Table.  Brimming with whimsy, wit, and authority, this book will appeal to those looking for a good story as much as those looking for scientific history.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Combining history and science, this story brings to life the woman whose cells became one of humanity’s most important medical tools and details the history of medical ethics and the good of society versus the rights of the individual.  Skloot maintains an objective tone evincing compassion and respect for both sides of the debate.

Death by Black Hole, and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson

In this series of essays, Tyson cheerfully explains the complex fields of astrophysics, relativity, and quantum mechanics with engaging humor, accessible language, and a Star Trek reference or two.  Readers who wished for more “hard science” in Roach’s writing, look no further.

Similar Fiction:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Fans of Roach’s vividly depicted oddballs and outcasts will find their fictional counterparts in droves in this sci-fi cult classic.  Adams tells the story of displaced Earthling Arthur Dent with a serious flair for the wacky, the outlandish, and the odd bit of science.  Prepare yourself for an onslaught of witty one-liners (which is Adams’ case may actually take up an entire paragraph).

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

A darkly funny tale about a neurotic man who becomes a widower, a father, and a sort of grim reaper all in one day, this story takes a comical look at our soul’s inevitable slide toward the undiscovered country.  Readers of Roach will find in Moore a shared philosophy that perhaps death and dying should be approached with less trepidation and more humor.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The first novel in Pratchett’s famed Discworld series, The Color of Magic introduces readers to a universe so richly detailed it seems like it could be real enough if alchemy and suspicion had won over science and reason.  Readers of Roach may enjoy Pratchett’s thought-provoking satire as well as the outrageously funny situations his characters find themselves in.

Name: Jessica

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

November 7, 2012 by

Author: Anthology, 64 contributing authors

Title: The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 281

Geographical Setting: N/A

Time Period: Present (some flashbacks to authors’ adolescence).

Plot Summary: What would you write if you could send a letter to your young adult self? This question is explored in The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves as sixty-four LGBT authors, including Michael Cunningham and Amy Bloom, create an anthology of letters written to themselves as teenagers. While each letter is unique and distinctive, the collection as a whole discusses topics such as: exploring self-identity, the sometimes painful process of coming out, and encouragement and hope for bright futures ahead. Some authors write letters that are nostalgic and humorous as they discuss memorable moments from their adolescence, a well-remembered love for Barbara Streisand’s Broadway albums for example. Other letters take on a more serious tone with discussions of bullying or teenage self-loathing. Despite the variety of moods present in this anthology, the collective message found in the text is hopeful and reassuring with promises of happy adulthood in a more tolerant society. In addition to content, the letters are also unique in format. While the majority of entries consist of traditional letters, others are written in free verse or graphic novel form. This anthology of unsent letters makes for an emotional read that is heartwarming at times while tearful at others. Written in a conversational tone, The Letter Q is an honest and endearing read about courage and self-acceptance that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

Subject Headings: Coming out (Sexual orientation), Gay men, Self-acceptance, Social situations, Teenage, Teenagers, Gays-Identity, Adolescence

Three Appeal Terms: Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic

Appeal: Compassionate, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic, Optimistic, Flashbacks, Issue-Oriented, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Conversational, Multiple Points of View.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality by John Schwartz

Written by a New York Times correspondent, Schwartz tells the heartbreaking story of his thirteen-year-old son’s attempt to commit suicide after coming out to friends and family. The near tragedy becomes an uplifting tale as Schwartz recounts his mission to make his teenage son feel safe and supported. Fans of The Letter Q who are looking for additional true coming out stories that are both positive and encouraging may also enjoy this title.

Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge

Structured as a guidebook for young adults, Queer offers advice on a wide range of topics including dating, sex, and homophobia. For young adults who appreciated the guidance and suggestions provided in The Letter QQueer may be helpful additional reading for teens who are seeking more resources on coming out.

When I Knew (2005)

A collection of anecdotes from eighty contributing writers, When I Knew authors describe the moment they realized they were gay and the coming out process that followed. When I Knew may appeal to Q fans who are looking for additional anthologies of coming out stories that are both inspiring and humorous.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

My most excellent year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is narrated by three young adults from Boston who share their experiences of love and friendship through letters, emails, and instant messages. This trio of unique characters consists of  T.C., who is baseball-obsessed and has made a hobby of writing letters to his deceased mother; Alejandra, whose father is an ambassador to Mexico and holds Jacqueline Kennedy as her role model; and Augie, a musical theater fanatic who shares his own coming out story. Young adult readers who enjoyed the multiple voices included in The Letter Q may appreciate this humorous coming-of-age/coming out story told through three narrators. My Most Excellent Year’s format of letters, emails, and texts might also appeal to Q fans.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
 by Emily Franklin

High school senior Lucas is thoroughly shocked when his lifelong best friend, Tessa, turns down his prom invitation and also comes out to him as a lesbian. Wanting to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the dance, Tessa is faced with Lucas’ betrayal of spreading her secret and the town’s backlash towards her determination to attend the prom.  readers who are looking for another inspiring yet humorous coming out story told through multiple perspectives might appreciate this title.

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Sixteen-year-old Steven embarks on a mission to prove to himself that, despite his doubts, he is straight. His adventures include dating a slue of his female classmates, socializing with the jocks, and a comical attempt to purchase a Playboy. When Steven finally admits to himself that he is gay, he comes out to his best friend who responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and urges him to share the good news with everyone he knows. Similar to The Letter Q, Absolutely, Positively Not is endearing, hopeful, and hilarious. Q fans who are seeking additional believable, light-hearted coming out stories might enjoy this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

Temari Techniques

November 7, 2012 by

Author: Barbara B. Suess

Title: Temari Techniques A Visual Guide to Making Japanese Embroidered Thread Balls

Genre: Nonfiction

Publish Date: 2012

Pages: 199

Summary: An in-depth study of Temari; embroidered thread balls that are symbols of friendship and good luck in Japan, originally created as toys for young children and now are miniature works of art. Includes their origin, how they were made in the beginning  and to make the balls now, teaches the various embroidery techniques used to decorate them, lesson plans for teaching others in a class setting using the book, and more diagrams than you can shake a stick at. Contains full color photographs and practice projects, as well as how to create your own original designs. Complete bibliography and source guide for gathering materials is included. Includes some Romanji (English characters for Japanese words) in describing the embroidery aspect of the craft, but everything is set forth in plain English. Meant for people of all levels of craftiness, including the complete novice and the expert: the author caters to both in this text.

Headings: 1. Fancy work–Japan 2. Embroidery–Japan 3. Decorative balls–Japan

Appeal: detailed, artistic, informative, exotic, green (recycling), history, arts and crafts, math-based, geometry, unique, toys, accessible

Top Three Terms: Accessible, informative, artistic

Similar Nonfiction:

  • Japanese Sashiko Inspirations by Susan Briscoe (2008) For those who are interested in learning other Japanese techniques, Sashiko is a intricate type of embroidery or quilting completely done with one simple stitch. The motifs used here are also applicable to the temari balls and can also used as home decor. Even if you are just curious, the pictures are a pleasure to look at and may inspire you to try something new.
  •   Japanese Braiding The Art of Kumihimo by Jaqui Carey (1997, spiral bound in 2009) Although originally used as the lacing to samurai armor, kumihimo can be used in home furnishings, jewelry and fashion, much like the other crafts mentioned so far. This little book has all the details on the materials to how to make several of the basic braids, though this is not the end all be all on the topic. Full of diagrams, this is a good place to start.
  • Kanzashi in Bloom: 20 Simple Fold and Sew Projects to Wear and Give by Diane Gilleland (2009) Kanzashi refers to the hairpins worn by geisha, and is also the name given to pretty little flowers made of folded fabric that often make up the decorations for the hairpins. Full color photographs and diagrams teach the novice how to make several kinds of flowers and how to use them. Kanzashi flowers can be used for jewelry and fashion purposes, as well as for home decor. Just about the only book on the topic in English.
  • Bonus Nonfiction: Women of the Pleasure Quarters The Secret History of the Geisha by Lesley Downer (2001). A detailed history of Geisha from those who were and are a part of the ‘flower and willow’ world. Contains photographs and a glossary of terms used by the community. Included because the crafts talked about here also play a role in the culture. Interesting for those who want to really know what the geisha were about.

Similar Fiction:

  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997). A fictional memoir of a young girl who is pulled into the ‘flower and willow’ world of geisha and how she tries to live her life. Similar to Pleasure Quarters because of its detail and poignancy. One of the few books on the topic because of the secrecy surrounding the geisha world.
  • The Ronin’s Mistress by Laura Joh Rowland (2011) A fictional answer to  the historical occurrence that was the 47 Ronin is presented in book 15 of the Sano Ichiro mystery series. Another view point on Japanese culture presented through the eyes of men. Replete with detail, readers will be pulled into a forgotten time.
  • The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (Tyler Translation 2001) The original novel of Japanese court life in the 10th and 11th century. For those who love history with a touch of romance or are curious about another culture.

Name: Jennifer

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

November 7, 2012 by

Author:  Jenny Lawson

Title:  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  (A Mostly True Memoir)

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Autobiography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  318

Geographical Setting:  Various locations in Texas, including Houston and several small towns in West Texas.

Time Period:  2000’s, with flashbacks to 1970’s-80’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

In Jenny Lawson’s self-proclaimed “mostly true memoir” she shares humorous anecdotes and reflections about her childhood and adolescence, marriage and motherhood, foibles and friendships, and attempts to rid her new home from the threat of potential zombie attacks.  With chapter headings like “Stanley, the Magical Talking Squirrel,” “My Vagina is Fine, Thanks for Asking,” “And Then I Got Stabbed in the Face by a Serial Killer,” you realize from the start that this book is probably not going to follow the conventions of many memoirs- and you wouldn’t want it to.

The author, creator of the popular online blog, “The Bloggess,” engages and entertains readers with stories that are mostly funny and offbeat (i.e. an overzealous taxidermist father), though she does share some painful episodes (a miscarriage, an anxiety disorder, rheumatoid arthritis) as well.  In both everyday experiences and big-life moments, Jenny Lawson seems to relish finding and sharing the humor of an awkward and/or absurd situation- overall, it makes for a fun, fast read that you were glad to share in, though slightly thankful you didn’t have to go through first-hand.

Subject Headings:  Personal narratives, Childhood memories, Growing up, Awkward high school experiences, Drug use, Family relationships, Marriage, Motherhood, Friendships, Pets, New homes, Human resource departments, Anxiety disorder, Misadventures, Taxidermy, Texas, Rural towns, Blogs.

Appeal:  Humorous, Offbeat, Sarcastic, Conversational, Candid, Engaging, Witty, Bawdy, Contemporary, Colorful characters, Family relationships, Growing up in rural towns, Photographs.

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Humorous, Offbeat, Engaging.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Migrom

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson shares anecdotes of living with a father who is a taxidermist.  Readers interested in finding out more about taxidermy may enjoy this title, in which the author explores the history, community, and craft/art of taxidermy.

2.  I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl by Laurie Notaro.

Readers who enjoyed the offbeat humor of Jenny Lawson’s book may enjoy reading this collection of funny, quirky stories chronicling the idiosyncrasies of the author’s life in her thirties.

3.  Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho.

Readers inspired to begin a blog of their own after reading Jenny Lawson’s book may find this title to be a helpful resource.  It covers a range of topics about starting and developing a blog, in addition to interviews with current successful bloggers.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks

Max Brooks’ humorous book of survival strategies for dealing with the undead could have come in handy for Jenny Lawson- in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, she searches the property of her new home for supposed graves in order to avoid being unexpectedly accosted by zombies.

2.  If You Were Here: A Novel by Jen Lancaster

In both Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and this story, we follow the funny and frustrating ups and downs of couples as they adapt to life in a new home and married life.

3.  Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud

Readers who enjoyed the wacky humor of Jenny Lawson’s book and her penchant for collecting taxidermies may enjoy reading this title, the first of a series of mysteries starring unlikely sleuth Garth Carson- a New York City taxidermy collector.

Name:  Nicole

Get me out: a history of childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the sperm bank

November 7, 2012 by

Get me outTitle: Get me out : a history of childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the sperm bank

Author: Randi Hutter Epstein

Genre: Nonfiction, Science Writing

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 302

Geographical Setting: Setting changes, as does time period

Plot Summary:  Get me out is an incredibly interesting, if not mildly disturbing overview of the history of childbirth.  Randi Hutter Epstein does a good job providing scholarly information in a popular and easily accessible way that non-medical professionals will be able to understand.  An example of this blending of scholarly and popular is the stylistic choice to include footnotes at the bottom of the pages, instead of having to flip to the end of the book to find the additional information.  The topics covered vary from medical to issue-oriented.  A few examples are discussions about how certain current medical procedures were perfected, how resistant doctors were to accept findings contrary to what suited their needs, and how influential health insurance providers were several decades ago.  This is  book is for everyone; however, I would caution the faint of heart, or anyone currently pregnant because the descriptions can be rather graphic and some of the topics covered are still current issues today.
Subject Headings: Birth customs; Childbirth; Gynecology; Midwifery; Obstetrics; Pregnancy; Reproduction; Reproductive technology; Medicine; Childbirth — History

Appeal:  Compelling; Engrossing; Sobering; Issue-oriented; Thought-provoking; Historical details; Accessible; Medical details; Descriptive; Episodic; Frank; Jargon; Well-researched; Informative; Graphic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Compelling; Informative; Historical and Medical details;

Three fiction read-alikes:

The birth house by Ami McKay (Childbirth, Thought-provoking, Descriptive)

In an isolated village in Nova Scotia during the first years of World War I, a midwife and her apprentice, Dora Rare, face the challenge of protecting generations of birthing traditions and wisdom when a smooth new doctor comes to town promising fast, painless childbirths.

The birth of love by Joanna Kavenna (Childbirth, Issue-oriented)

In nineteenth-century Vienna, doctors did not routinely wash their hands.  In twenty-first-century London, a woman chooses to have a drug free homebirth.  In twenty-second-century Arctic Circle, a woman rebels against custom and becomes pregnant without the help of science.  Three different women, during three different centuries face their generations’ challenges of labor and childbirth.

 The zygote chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore (Pregnancy)

A humorous story, told in diary form, about a 30 year-old woman’s pregnancy and the changes and challenges she faces as motherhood nears.

Three related non-fiction titles:

Pink and Blue: telling the boys from the girls in America by Jo B. Paoletti (Social issues, Descriptive, History)

How important is it to dress children in the ‘right’ colors?  This book explores the fascinating history of gendered clothing in America.  A culmination of 30 years of research, this book covers issues of child development, gender studies, fashion, marketing, and parenting. For those curious about the answer to the question, blue used to be for girls!

Birth matters: how what we don’t know about nature, bodies, and surgery can hurt us by Ina May Gaskin (Science writing, Descriptive, Childbirth)

Ina May offers a global and practical look at pregnancy and the significance and purpose of childbirth.  Ina May is a famous midwife with years of experience and knowledge about different cultural approaches to childbirth.

Pushed: the painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care by Jennifer Block (Science writing, Childbirth, Maternal health services)

Block, known to many from her previous book Our Bodies, Ourselves, tackles the current issues women are faced with when deciding where and how to give birth.  This book delves into questions pertaining to the number of cesarean sections and episiotomies performed and whether or not that number is reflective of necessity for a safe and healthy childbirth.

Name: Shira

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

November 7, 2012 by

Author:  Kate Summerscale

Title:  Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

Genre:  Biography

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  291

Geographical Setting:  Scotland and England

Time Period:  Victorian Era, 1850-1859

Plot Summary:  Isabella Robinson was a 31 year-old widow with a young child when she met and married Henry Robinson in 1844.  The Robinsons subsequently had two children of their own, and the family became firmly ensconced in upper middle class society in Scotland and England.   Isabella ultimately grew unhappy with her aloof husband, and spent more and more of her time in the company of family friends and academics whom she admired.  After stumbling upon and reading Isabella’s private diary in 1857, Henry Robinson promptly sued his wife for divorce in the English courts on charges of adultery.   The resulting divorce hearings and trial erupted into in a scandal of massive proportion when The London Times printed a series of unedited excerpts from Isabella’s diary in which she described, in lurid detail, a series of intimate encounters with Edward Lane, a respected London doctor and friend to the Robinson family.  Was Isabella really a bold, unrepentant adulteress or simply a discontented wife who wrote unashamedly about her sexual frustrations and fantasies?  Why was Isabella subject to public scorn, while Dr. Lane was afforded greater sympathy?  Summerscale provides readers with a moving portrait of Isabella’s life, details of her relationship with Edward Lane and his family, and an informative look at the moral and cultural influences of the Victorian era.  This well-researched work includes excerpts from Isabella’s diary and letters, relevant court transcripts and news reports of the day, and excerpts from the personal letters of historical figures such as Charles Darwin and controversial phrenologist George Combe, both of whom were patients of Dr. Lane’s, and acquaintances of Isabella’s.  Overall, this work offers a fascinating examination of the role of women in the Victorian era, and the inequalities afforded them by society and the courts.

Subject Headings:  Robinson, Isabella (1813-1887)—Diaries;  Middle class women—Scotland—Edinburgh—Diaries;  Edinburgh—Scotland—Social life and customs—19th century;  Divorce—England—19th century

Appeal:  compelling, densely written, stately, atmospheric, dramatic, introspective, sophisticated, thoughtful, detailed, evocative, insightful, sympathetic characters, authentic, details of the Victorian era, complex, investigative, rich and famous, accessible, colorful, engaging, informative, journalistic, polished, well-researched

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book:  compelling, insightful, well-researched

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

In Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, Isabella Robinson is aware of the scandal surrounding the publication of Madame Bovary in France in 1856, and the charges of obscenity which prevented its publication in Scotland and England.  Did the tale of Emma Bovary’s discontent and adultery influence Isabella’s behavior or simply spark her imagination?  Flaubert’s classic novel mirrors Isabella’s life with its theme of a passionate woman dissatisfied with her marriage and way of life.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Readers of Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace interested in its examination of the effects a scandalous affair can have on a woman’s reputation may also enjoy this fictionalized account of the relationship between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress of many years, Mameh Cheney.  Horan’s award-winning novel focuses on the impact their long-time affair had on Wright’s wife and family, and the public derision Cheney endured after she left her husband and children to make a new life with Wright.

Clara Callan by Richard Bruce Wright

Readers of Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace who enjoyed learning about societal expectations impacting women in a bygone era may also enjoy Wright’s novel about two sisters pursuing separate dreams against the backdrop of the political and social upheaval of the 1930’s.  Written as a series of letters and diary entries, Wright’s novel offers a vivid portrait of the lives of the two women, one pursuing a career in glamorous New York City, while the other struggles with the limitations of a more traditional life in her small Canadian town.  Interwoven throughout the story are real world events that shaped the era, including the effects of the Great Depression and the rising political tensions in pre-WWII Europe.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Marriage, Feminism, and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895 by Mary Lyndon Shanley

In Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, Isabella Robinson found herself a victim of society’s attitudes toward the role of women in Victorian era England, as well as antiquated and discriminatory divorce laws which afforded women few rights when a marriage was dissolved.  Out of the struggles of married women like Isabella, a feminist movement was born.  Shanley’s title examines the Victorian feminists’ battle for fundamental reforms to marriage law that ultimately transformed both the legal and social status of married women.

Hydotherapy:  Simple Treatments for Common Ailments by Clarence Dail and Charles Thomas

Edward Lane, the doctor who was the object of Isabella Robinson’s passion in Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, was the proprietor of a popular health retreat that specialized in hydrotherapy, a relatively new and fairly provocative medical treatment at the time.  In addition to Isabella, his patients included upper class members of society, celebrities of the era, and historical figures such as Charles Darwin.  This title by Dail and Thomas examines modern-day beliefs surrounding the healing powers of water.

 Darwin:  Portrait of a Genius by Paul Johnson

As one of many famous patients to take treatment at Dr. Lane’s health retreat throughout the 1850’s, influential scientist Charles Darwin makes several appearances in Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace, with his opinion regarding the scandal surrounding Dr. Lane and Isabella reflected in his writings of the time.   Readers interested in learning more about Darwin will find much to enjoy in Johnson’s new biography, which details the life and times of the celebrated scientist, whose groundbreaking work Origin of the Species was published in 1859, just as the Robinson divorce case was reaching its conclusion.