Posts Tagged ‘captivating’

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.

Heaven is for Real

March 28, 2012

Author: Todd Burpo

Title: Heaven is for Real

Genre: Spirituality and Religion

Publication Date: November 2, 2010

Number of Pages: 163

Geographical Setting: Nebraska

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Heaven is for Real tells Colton Burpo’s story of experiencing Heaven during an emergency appendectomy.  It all started as a bad case of the flu in which Colton, three years old at the time, could not stop throwing-up.  When Colton’s symptoms had not pass within 48 hours, Todd and his wife Sonja knew it had to be something more serious.  They rushed their son to the hospital and after many tests discovered that Colton was suffering from a burst appendix, causing a steady leak of acid into his small body.  Months after his surgery, Colton mentions to his parents that he remembers the angels singing to him at the hospital, and this is only the beginning of what he experienced.  Heartwarming and compelling, it is hard not to fall in love with Colton Burpo, but more importantly this book will leave you wondering if Heaven is for real.

Subject Headings: Burpo, Colton, 1999-; Four-year-old boys — Nebraska — Biography; Heaven (Christianity); Near-death experience — Religious aspects — Christianity; Christian life — Nebraska; Eschatology, Christian

Appeal: compelling, heartwarming, inspirational, thought-provoking, fast-paced, humorous, engaging, best-seller, small-town, conversational, emotional, captivating

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, inspirational, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Just Who Will You Be?, Maria Shriver.  Philosophical and inspirational, Shriver has a similar writing style to that of Todd Burpo.  This book is about her experience of giving up her job at NBC and discovering what is most important about oneself.
  2. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Mary Roach.  Engaging and humorous, this quirky read is the perfect blend of skepticism and a sincere desire to know about life after death.
  3. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan.  This book provides an argument for the role of scientific thought in our society and how it competes with spirituality.

3 Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Ice Queen: A Novel, Alice Hoffman.  After surviving a near-death experience, a small town librarian finds herself in a love affair with a most unlikely partner.
  2. A Bend in the Road, Nicholas Sparks.  Heartwarming and homespun, this story is about finding happiness after the loss of a loved one.
  3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom.  Inspirational and psychological, this book explains the meaning of Eddie’s life through his encounters with five people in heaven.

Name: Erin Shinneman

Batman: the Long Halloween

April 14, 2010

Author: Jeph Loeb

Title: Batman: the Long Halloween

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication date: 1998

Number of pages: 369

Geographical setting: Gotham City

Time period: Modern day

Series: Batman

Plot summary: When a mysterious killer begins murdering people on national holidays, Batman finds himself in a race against time to find out who’s behind it all.  The victims are all connected to Carmine Falcone, Gotham City’s most powerful crime lord.  The novel also highlights the transformation of Harvey Dent from honest District Attorney to psychotic villain Two-Face.

Subject headings: Batman, graphic novel, crime, superheroes, murder, mystery, DC Comics, noir, holidays

Appeal: character-centered, cinematic, compelling, conversational, dark, dramatic, engaging, fast-paced, investigative, plot twists, political, psychological, suspenseful, tragic, violent

3 terms that best describe this book: Edgy, captivating, dark

Similar works:


Batman and Philosophy: the Dark Knight of the Soul by Mark D. White- White delves deep into the world of Batman and discusses the philosophical undercurrents found within.

Becoming Batman: the Possibility of a Superhero by Dr. E. Paul Zehr- What does it take to be a superhero in real life?  Dr. Zehr presents an in-depth study of human physiology and analyzes the possibility that a millionaire could transform himself or herself into a crime-fighter.

The Essential Batman Encyclopedia by Robert Greenberger- This is a collection of entries written about different characters and items from the Batman comics, TV shows, and movies.  Greenberger provides readers with every piece of information they could ever want to know about Batman in 500 pages.


Batman: Year One by Frank Miller- This is the story of how Batman came to be.  Miller reveals the events that lead Bruce Wayne to become a masked vigilante.

Batman: the Killing Joke by Alan Moore- In an attempt to prove that madness isn’t beneath anyone, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine and kidnaps and torments Commissioner Gordon.

Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb- This serves as a sequel to The Long Halloween. After Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face, Gotham City gets a new District Attorney who wants to clean up the streets of Gotham.  But her plans get placed on how when a new killer, dubbed “the Hangman” begins hanging people in the police department.

Name: Shannon Duffy

The Dick Cheney Code: A Parody

April 8, 2009

Author: Henry Beard

Title: The Dick Cheney Code: A Parody

Genre: Humor, Parody

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 208

Geographical Setting: Washington DC

Time Period: around the 2004 United States presidential election

Plot Summary: This book is a parody of the Da Vinci Code satirizing the 2004 Bush re-election campaign and Bush-era conspiracy theories. Borrowing plot twists and formulas from The Da Vinci Code, the book opens with a murder. The two main characters, Sandra H. Damsel and William Franklin are working to solve the murder of Hemmings Dumont, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemmings, who was murdered with a poisoned dart in the Smithsonian Museum where he was a curator. Dumont was a guarding a document passed from Benjamin Franklin through generations of Franklins. Among other things, the document shows that the title to the Louisiana Purchase was to pass to the descendants of all American slaves in October 2003. Realizing this would likely turn red states into blue states costing George Bush re-election, Dick Cheney and the Republican Party set the force of the government to protecting the secret. Meanwhile, our two main characters are on a wild goose chase, following a trail of simpleminded and outrageously silly clues, riddles, and puzzles left by the deceased in a plan to reveal the documents secrets in the event of his murder. The wicked humor and wordplay in this political parody and Da Vinci Code spoof and will engage readers and have them laughing out-loud at the absurdity of it all.

Subject Headings: Alternate history – Parody; American political parody; Cheney, Richard; Codes and Riddles; Da Vinci code – Parodies; Elections – United States – 2004 – Parodies; Murder investigation; Political crimes and offenses; Political corruption; Political culture – United States – 21st century; Political leadership – United States – 21st century; Popular culture; Republicans; Secrets; Secret societies; Skull and Crossbones Society; Suspense stories – Parodies.

Appeal: a romp, absurdist humor, accessible, enjoyable read for everyone, breakneck speed, captivating, civilized jest, clever, sarcasm and wry wit, compelling, contemporary, conversational, detailed, edgy, energetic, fast-paced, good-humored, humorous, laugh-out-loud funny, light amusing satire, plot twists, political, quirky, satirical writing, silly, wickedly funny, wicked sense of satire—but never mean or angry—it is silly and gentle humor, wordplay and puzzle-solving.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: Authors: Jon Stewart, Al Frankin, Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, and publications from The Onion (all: for details of the current American political scene, humorous commentary, center to left political slant, and political satire). Works: Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by Barton Gellman (details of Dick Cheney’s Vice Presidency, details of Cheney’s redefinition of the VP responsibilities, details of Cheney’s history-making/changing power and influence as VP, popular treatment – reads like fiction); and Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power by Alexandra Robbins (details of the Skull & Bones Society, details of secret societies, details of the Bonesmen’s theft of Geronimo’s bones, details of Skull & Bones members, vivid & witty descriptions).

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: The Da Vinci Mole: A Philosophical Parody by Ian Browne (Da Vinci Code parody; “wordplay-laden dialogue”; plot twists involving conspiracy, puzzles, and cryptic messages; humorous; pokes fun at The Da Vinci Code; fast-paced suspenseful story with pop culture references). Hotline Healers: An Almost Browne Novel by Gerald Vizenor (comedic plot twists involving government corruption & conspiracy, series of adventures, parody of American historical & cultural perceptions, satiric style, humorous pop culture references). Goodnight Bush: A Parody by Erich Origen (political parody; parody of iconic book–Goodnight Moon; recreates the feel of the classic book; satirical commentary on the Bush administration; quick read; fast paced; picture book; layers of satire with political details in both the illustrations and the prose).

Name: Amy