Posts Tagged ‘character driven’

I Am J

December 11, 2012

i am j coverAuthor: Cris Beam

Title: I Am J

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 326

Geographical Setting: Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood

Time period: Present day

Genre: GLBT fiction; Realistic fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: J has always known that he is a boy stuck in a girl’s body. When he was young, he could refuse to be put in dresses and goof around like one of the boys on the playground.  As a teenager, however, J’s body begins to change, forcing him to hide under layers of clothing. Feeling like nobody understands him, not even his best friend, J decides to run away and figure out things out on his own.  On his journey he makes a new friend at a special school for gay and transgender teens, finds romance with a straight female artist named Blue, and learns about testosterone – the one thing that might finally allow him to come out of hiding and become the boy he always knew he was. This is an inspiring story that can be understood by any teenager (or adult) who has ever felt isolated or struggled to embrace their identity, and how to overcome these obstacles on the path to self-discovery.

Subject Headings: Transsexuals – Fiction. Identity – Fiction. Emotional problems – Fiction. Friendship – fiction.

Appeal: Character driven, thought-provoking, inspirational, issue-oriented, compelling, leisurely paced, sobering, descriptive, well-developed characters, moving, urban setting, realistic

Three appeal terms:  Character driven, thought-provoking, issue-oriented

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Luna also tells the tale of a transgender person struggling for self-identity, but this time the reader gets the story from the point of view of another character. Teenager Regan is the only person who knows that her older brother Liam is a transsexual, until he decides to transition and finally shares his secret with his family and friends. Readers who enjoyed the character-driven, issue-oriented tale of J in I Am J will likely get just as wrapped up in Liam’s story in Luna.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

It’s 1968 in a small Canadian town where the parents of a baby born as a hermaphrodite struggle with how to raise their child. The father takes charge, deciding to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. The mother, however, secretly nurtures her child’s feminine side. As Wayne grows up, he realizes that he can’t ignore the part of his self that he thinks of as a girl named Annabel, and finds himself battling to decide with which gender he truly identifies.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

For readers who would like a more cheerful gay-themed book that doesn’t take itself so seriously, I suggest David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. The town where high-school sophomore Paul lives is described in reviews as a “gay utopia,” and this is a very fitting description. It’s no secret that Paul is gay, but nobody cares! He fits right in at this high school where the football team’s quarterback is a cross-dresser and the cheerleading team is made up of a bunch of bikers. This is an upbeat, character-driven book that shows the less serious side of finding and accepting one’s true identity.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam

Written by the same author as I Am J, this is the true story of Beam’s volunteer work at a support center for transgender teens. Beam introduces the reader to four students she meets who are challenged with figuring out who they are and how they are seen by the outside world. Beam’s narrative reveals how the struggles they face are familiar to what we all face – the desire to be comfortable with ourselves and also be accepted by those around us.

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel

GLBTQ teens can find advice, support, guidance and useful information in this valuable resource that has been updated since it was first published in 2003. This book is geared towards young adults who are questioning their sexual or gender identity and may need guidance and support or simply reassurance that they are not alone.

The Privilege of Youth: a Teenager’s Story of Longing for Acceptance and Friendship by David Pelzer

This book is about acceptance, which has been the underlying theme of all of these books. In this inspiring memoir, Pelzer shares his compelling story of an abusive childhood, followed by an adolescence of bullying and longing for acceptance, and how he finally escaped his home life and overcame the struggles he faced his whole life.

Name: Melissa Apple

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The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

December 5, 2012

Author:  Wes Moore

Title:  The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Biography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  233

Geographical Setting:  primarily in Baltimore (MD), the Bronx (NY), and Wayne (PA)

Time Period:  1982-2010

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  In 2000, Wes Moore read a series of stories in the newspaper about a robbery/homicide in Baltimore; one of the young men arrested and convicted of the crime was also named Wes Moore.  Wes contacted the man, who was serving a life sentence in prison, and discovered through their letters and conversations that they shared much more in common than a name alone.  As boys, both had lived in poor neighborhoods, were fatherless, struggled in school, and had run into trouble with the police- yet their paths would diverge and lead to different ends.  Alternating between their stories, this insightful and thought provoking book follows the lives of the two boys named Wes Moore as they grow up, exposing readers to various factors that would influence their choices and opportunities (or lack thereof).  An extensive resource guide of over 200 youth-serving organizations across the country is provided at the end of the book.

Subject Headings:  Biography/memoir, African Americans, Childhood & youth, Baltimore (MD), Social conditions, Urban life, Family relationships, Life choices, Criminal activities, Prisoners, Education, Military service.

Appeal:  Character-driven, Coming-of-age story, Reflective, Thought provoking, Inspiring, Life choices and expectations, Second chances, Memoir, African American characters, Family relationships, Single-parent households, Mother-son relationships, Mentors, Leadership, Urban street life, Drug dealing & gangs, Baltimore (MD).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Character-driven, coming-of-age story, urban life.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  Readers interested in learning more about the social justice inequities exposed within The Other Wes Moore may want to read this title- it addresses issues surrounding the high rates of incarceration for people of color in our country’s prison system.

2.  The Beautiful Struggle:  A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Both The Other Wes Moore and this memoir are coming-of-age stories about African-American young men, set in Baltimore, and involving life expectations, choices, and consequences.

3.  My American Journey by Colin Powell.  In his book, Wes Moore describes Colin Powell’s memoir as being influential in his life, and more specifically in his decision to join the military.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson.  The Other Wes Moore and this novel are both thought provoking, inspiring, coming-of-age stories in which young men struggle to overcome their circumstances.

2.  Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty written by Greg Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke.  A graphic novel based upon a gang-related murder that happened in Chicago in 1994, this title could be a good match for readers who found the violence, drug selling and gang life depicted in The Other Wes Moore to be compelling.

3.  Slam! by Walter Dean Myers.  Both Wes Moore and the main character (Greg Harris) of this novel are African-American young men who come from tough, city neighborhoods and have to adjust to life at new, mostly white, schools.  In both stories, the young men find supportive mentors who help open their eyes to life’s possibilities.

Name:  Nicole

When the Emperor Was Divine

November 27, 2012

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

Heart-Shaped Box

October 31, 2012

Heart-Shaped Box Book CoverTitle: Heart-Shaped Box

Author: Hill, Joe

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: New York, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Plot Summary:  In this chilling tale that should be read with all the lights on, aging rock star Judas Coyne is no longer touring and releasing album. Instead he spends his time dating Goth chicks, such as his current lady Georgia, and expanding his bizarre, macabre collection of artifacts including a witch’s confession and a snuff film.  So when his assistant Danny mentions an auction for the suit of a dead man that comes with a ghost, Judas is hooked and must have it.  But when the suit arrives, danger and chilling nightmares enter Judas’ life.  He begins to see the dead man everywhere swinging a deadly razor from a chain or rocking in a Shaker chair.  Judas cannot escape the ghost’s hypnotizing presence or the haunting words about taking “a ride on the nightroad.”  It turns out the ghost has a link to Judas’ past and it is out for revenge of the deadliest kind.  As the terror and sense of dread builds, Judas and Georgia are eventually forced to hit the road to face their pasts and solve the mystery surrounding the dead man to avoid the dreaded “nightroad.”  Winner of the Bram Stoker Award, it is a horror novel reminiscent of your favorite classic ghost stories but with a contemporary feel.  You will be wary with each turn of the page as the uneasy, menacing atmosphere builds throughout the story until its satisfying conclusion.  This is a great novel for both newcomers and seasoned veterans of the horror genre, and will have you rooting for its flawed, compelling characters to triumph over evil.

Subject Headings: Ghost stories, Rock Musicians, Suspense Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal Phenomena, Apparitions, Men/Women Relations, Life after death

Appeal:  builds in intensity, atmospheric, chilling, suspenseful, menacing atmosphere, flawed characters, plot twists, well-crafted, uneasy mood, character-driven, creepy, dangerous, haunting, macabre, sense of dread, compelling, violent, engaging characters, foreboding, vivid storyline, descriptive

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Creepy, Flawed Characters, Suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Horror fans and novices can enjoy this classic collection of ghostly stories from a pioneer of the genre.  Here are 16 classic tales to chill the bones and haunt your dreams, and are just as menacing and creepy as The Heart-Shaped Box.

Christine by Stephen King

Go from haunted suit to a haunted car with this classic novel by Stephen King. Written by Joe Hill’s father, here is a similarly compelling and suspenseful horror novel where teen Arnie Cunningham falls in love with a 1958 Plymouth car dubbed “Christine.”  This car is not as simple as it seems, and it starts to haunt and endanger Arnie as well as those around him.  With Christine, you can get to know the work of Stephen King to whom Heart-Shaped Box was dedicated.

Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

A horror story that also has hypnotism and a similar mood, Tom Wallace mockingly agrees to be hypnotized at his brother-in-law’s party.  But when Tom awakens from the hypnotism, he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of those around him.  Even more compelling and terrifying, through this new ability he receives a message from beyond the grave that leads Tom onto a dangerous, creepy path in order to solve the message.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Crap I bought on eBay: 101 Crazy Bizarre, Seriously Weird, Ridiculously Raunchy Items Exposed by Cary McNeal and Beverly L. Jenkins

A great book for those fascinated by the macabre collection of character Judas Coyne.  The book highlights 101 of the craziest things actually bought on eBay by the authors.  Enjoy a mixture of laughter and shock as you browse these real-life items.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil

Get to know the crazy rock n’ roll world of Judas Coyne with this tell-all book about 80’s heavy metal group Motley Crue.  Written by member of the band with the help of music writer Neil Strauss, this book reveals the tours, drugs and alcohol, rock music and sex.  A fun glimpse into a crazy rocker’s world.

Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis by Robin Waterfield

Hypnosis was featured throughout the novel, and with this book you can become more familiar with it.  You will get to know the history, practice and modern uses of this controversial field.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Heartwood

October 31, 2012

Publication Date: 2011

Author: Belva Plain

Title: Heartwood

Genre: Women Lives and Relationships

Number of Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 1979-1983

Series (If applicable): Werner Family Saga

Plot Summary: The last novel in the Werner Family Saga, Heartwood is a leisurely-paced story about Iris Stern’s family life. Set in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Iris Stern, who is a daughter of a Polish-Jewish immigrant and a professor at a university. Even though she is a modern woman with a successful career, but when it comes to family, she is more old-fashioned. Even when her marriage is unwinding, Iris stays with her husband, Theo. Additionally; Heartwood goes into the adult lives of Iris’s three children, which are two boys and a girl. Although all three of her children are described in the story, it mainly goes back and forth between Iris and her only daughter Laura. Laura married her husband Robbie in college because she was pregnant with her daughter Katie. Laura’s marriage to Robby is on the rocks because she has found success in her catering business and Robby cannot adapt to the fact that she is the breadwinner. The heartwarming novel explains the stories of Iris and Laura’s secrets, hardships and happy moments in their marriages and family life.

Subject Headings: Jewish women – New York City; options, alternatives, choices; family secrets – New York City; Jewish families; Adult children – family relationships; stern family

Appeal: character-driven; detailed; engaging; family-centered; heartwarming; intimate; leisurely-paced; moving; nostalgic; reflective; romantic; straightforward; well-developed

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: family-centered; heartwarming; leisurely-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Pearlman, Ann, Infidelity (autobiography of three generations of a Jewish family and there family secrets)

– Rosen, Ruth, The world split open: how the modern women’s movement changed America (explains why women’s movement changed America,  how women like Iris and Laura can be successful women in the late 1970s into the early 1980s because of the impact of the women’s movement)

– Schulman, Bruce J., The seventies: the great shift in American culture, society, and politics (describes the cultural and political history of the 1970s which is when Heartwood took place)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-, A Women of Substance ( first book of Harte family saga throughout several generations, woman who immigrated from Europe)

– Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden (mother-daughter relationship, secrets of family- history)

– Sullivan, J. Courtney, Maine (three generations of women who have different values, hidden secrets)

Name: Samantha Biegel

V for Vendetta

October 24, 2012

Author: Alan Moore

Title: V for Vendetta

Genre: Graphic novel, book to movie, comic books

Date Published: Nov. 2005

Pages: 256

Setting: Alternative England

Time Frame: The near future

Series: N/A

Summary: In a different world and a Totalitarian England that never was, a young woman, Evey, is rescued by ‘V’, a charming and mysterious vigilante who stands for the downfall of the government’s tyranny and shows her a new and different way of thinking and living.

Headings: Vigilantes, Dystopias, resistance to government, human experimentation in medicine, Totalitarianism, Fascism, revenge, hope

Appeal: dark, grim, bleak, dramatic, suspenseful, thought-provoking, realistic art style, antiheroes, intricate, world-building, gritty, character-driven

Three Best Descriptions: Character-driven. bleak, suspenseful

Similar Fiction Authors:

  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1996) Located in an alternate Oxford, England, young Lyra must discover why local children are being kidnapped and why they are being severed from the Daemons that form part of themselves. (medical experimentation, suspense, world-building, steampunk, teens and adults)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) In a post-apocalyptic North America known as Panem, a lottery is held every four years to select a boy and a girl from each of its twelve Districts to participate in the widely broadcasted and gladiatorial Hunger Games; in order to prevent revolution. (world-building, character-driven, scifi, bleak, teens)
  • 1602 by Neil Gaiman (2004) In an alternative England, familiar Marvel comic book characters step into new roles in the court of Queen Elizabeth and have to deal with many trials (GN, historical, superheroes, teens and adults)

Similar Nonfiction Authors:

  • The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (2004) A political analysis dealing with Totalitarianism through its many phenomenas in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the 19th century. In depth study for those who need a definition of the way of thought. (antisemitism, social movements, historical writing)
  • Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003) An autobiographical  and child’s eye view at life under the Islamic Revolution. (GN, memoir, historical writing, family and relationships)
  • Doctors from Hell: the Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans by Vivian Spitz (2005) Unpublished photos and documents from the Nuremburg Trials during the Holocaust (historical account, ethics, 20th century)

Name: Jennifer Palermo

Embroideries

October 24, 2012

Embroideries
Embroideries

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Genre: Graphic Novels; Autobiographical stories; Women’s Lives

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: unpaged

Geographical Setting: Iran (present day)

 

Plot Summary:  A multi-generational group of Iranian women gathers after a meal to share a cup of tea and raunchy stories.  In this book, Marjane Satrapi reveals a glimpse into the world of the women in her life.  These compelling stories of sexual exploits range from humorous to sad.  Despite the fact these women come from an exotic country, the stories are accessible, engaging and full of issues that arise in the lives of most women, regardless of era, country, and culture.

Subject Headings: Family; Friendship; Marriage; Women; Sexuality; Interpersonal relationships;

Appeal:  Thought-provoking; Humorous; Reflective; Character-driven; Accessible; Conversational; Engaging; Spare; Nostalgic; Issue-oriented; Exotic; Introspective;Realistic; Bleak

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Exotic; Humorous; Realistic;

Three fiction read-alikes:

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (Islamic county, Women’s lives, Sexuality)

Four young women navigate the complex line between today’s modern culture and the more traditional one of their parents and their land.

Laughable loves by Milan Kundera (Character-driven; Spare; Exotic)

A collection of short-stories revolving around the sexual games and fantasies of middle-class Central Europeans.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (Character-driven, Spare, Reflective)

Family secrets unfold and sibling rivalries flare during intergenerational vacations involving road trips from Chicago to visit relatives in Mexico.

Three related non-fiction titles:

 Unlikely by Jeffrey Brown (Graphic novel, Interpersonal relationships, Autobiographical)

In this autobiographical graphic novel, Jeffrey Brown bravely shares the compelling story of his first sexual relationship and eventual breakup.

 Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (Iran, Women)

This is a compelling true story of a group of women in Iran, who risk their lives for the love of literature.

Passionate uprisings: Iran’s sexual revolution by Pardis Mahdavi (Iran, Sexuality)

Told from the unique point of view of a Westerner born of Iranian parents, this book explores the sexual revolution and extreme risks taking place in Iran today.

Name: Shira

Await Your Reply

October 17, 2012

Author:  Dan Chaon

Title:  Await Your Reply

Genre:  Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  320

Geographical Setting:  Various locations throughout the U.S. (including Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska) and abroad (Canada and Ivory Coast)

Time Period:  2000’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

Three seemingly disparate narratives, divided into three sections, comprise this book.

-Miles Cheshire searches for his missing, mentally unstable twin brother, Hayden- a search that has consumed him for the past ten years.

-After discovering that he was adopted, Ryan Schuyler drops out of college at nineteen to join his real father, Jay, who involves Ryan in his fraud and identity theft schemes.

-Lucy Lattimore is an orphan who runs away with George Orson, her former high school history teacher, looking for a new life.

Rotating between each of the characters, the stories are connected via themes of loss and identity, and perhaps much more.  A compelling read that addresses ideas of self and reinvention, Await Your Reply builds in intensity as readers discover the interconnectedness of the characters’ lives and the dangerous consequences of journeys ill-chosen.

Subject Headings:  Identity theft, Secret identity, Twins, Missing persons, Runaways, Adoption, Family relationships, Teacher-student relationships, Embezzling, Cybercrime, Second chances, Truth.

Appeal:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted, Multiple storylines, Disturbing, Bleak, Complicated, Suspenseful, Unrelenting, Family dynamics, Twin brothers, Secrets, Reinventing yourself, Search for truth, Quest for identity, Criminal activity (identity theft/cybercrime).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Stealing Your Life:  The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan  by Frank W. Abagnale

From counterfeiting expert and author of Catch Me If You Can, comes a book about identity theft that discusses both the methods used by criminals and the steps people can take to prevent and/or deal with becoming victims themselves.  Await Your Reply involves characters that are perpetrators of identity theft.  Readers searching for more information about identity theft may find the many case histories and suggestions included in this book to be useful.

2.  Kingpin:  How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground  by Kevin Poulsen

Kingpin follows the rise and fall of Max Butler, a criminal hacker who stole access to over a million credit card accounts, exposing readers to hacking culture and the cybercriminal underworld along the way.  Readers who found the secretive and dangerous aspects of the crimes committed by the characters in Await Your Reply intriguing could find this title to be a compelling read.

3.  Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited  by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Two sisters, separated as infants by an adoption agency, reunite later in life.  In this book, they share the journey of their relationship from strangers to sisters.  Await Your Reply includes twin brothers as prominent characters.  Readers interested in learning more about twins and their relationship with one another may find this book to be a good match- it includes both information about twin studies and statistics as well as the emotion connection that the sisters form.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Talented Mr. Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley travels to Italy to convince a former classmate, the wealthy Dickie Greanleaf, to return home to his family.  Plans go awry when their friendship cools; Tom kills Dickie and assumes his identity.  Await Your Reply and The Talented Mr. Ripley are both character-driven psychological suspense stories that involve stolen identities, written in a spare and compelling style.

2.  Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie investigates three past crimes, all involving dead and/or missing girls.  Although a mystery, Case Histories is similar to Await Your Reply for being character-driven, disturbing and suspenseful.  Both stories also contain multiple storylines that involve family relationships and missing persons.

3.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Thomas H. Cook

Diana Sears doesn’t believe police reports that find the drowning of her son to be an accident.  In Diana’s obsessive search for answers, details about old crimes resurface and questions arise as to whether several murders may have been committed.  Both Await Your Reply and The Cloud of Unknowing are character-driven, disturbing, psychological suspense stories that are compelling to read.  Both stories also involve family relationships and Schizophrenia.

Name:  Nicole

In the Woods

October 17, 2012

Author: Tana French

Title: In the Woods

Genre: Psychological  Suspense

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 429

Geographical Setting: Dublin, Ireland and Knocknaree, Ireland

Time Period: Modern times; 2007, also flashbacks to mid-1980s

Plot Summary: On a beautiful summer day in 1984, three young children mysteriously disappear into the woods near their home. While initially unalarmed, their parents eventually head out to search for the three kids. One is found, clutching a tree, covered in blood and unable to speak. The other two are never found. In modern times, detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to a terrible case of a young girl who is murdered and left on an ancient ceremonial stone in the same area where the two youngsters disappeared back in 1984. As the two detectives work tirelessly to uncover the young girl’s killer, detective Ryan must grapple with his own demons and try to make sense of a murder that seems unsolvable, and an old, haunting case that seems more and more to be connected. Will the two detectives be able to solve the case, and the old case, before they go cold?

Subject Headings: Murder victims, child murder, detectives, cold cases, criminal investigations, murder investigations, crimes against children, police, Dublin, Ireland, detective and mystery stories

Appeal: Character driven, Disturbing, Compelling, Lyrical, Moody, Detailed, Investigative, Builds in intensity, Suspenseful, Creepy, Series (Characters), Engrossing, Flashbacks,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Investigative, Creepy, Moody

Similar fiction authors and works:

Abbott, Megan E. The End of Everything

 

Evie and Lizzie are neighbors and best friends; they spend all of their time together and could never imagine being apart or keeping a secret. When Evie suddenly disappears, Lizzie is bombarded with questions about her best friend and her whereabouts. As she searches for the truth, Lizzie comes across a series of secrets that make her question how well she really knew her best friend.

Roy, Lori. Bent Road

When Arthur Scott moves his family back to his small hometown in Kansas, his wife and children struggle to adjust to their new life. To make matters worse, a young girl disappears in the town, drudging up old memories of Arthur’s sister, who also mysteriously disappeared never to be found. This richly detailed, creepy novel will delight readers who enjoyed the tone and atmosphere, as well as the suspense aspects, of In The Woods.

Eriksson, Kjell. The Princess of Burundi

When a jogger stumbles onto the body of a local small town crook, the homicide detective team works to uncover the multiple angles of who might have killed him. Though eventually discovered, this psychological mystery is a compelling and gritty read.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Cohen, Lisa R. After Etan: the missing child case that held America captive

While often when children go missing, they are eventually found, this is the true tale of a young boy who disappeared 30 years ago and is still missing. Filled with disturbing details, this will be an enjoyable read for anyone who liked the aspect of a cold case of missing children and the gritty details surrounding that.

Kottler, Jeffrey A. Lust for Blood

This book examines the ongoing fascination with crime, murder, and violence in the world. Filled with interviews of both consumers of the morbid, and those who perpetrate these crimes, this book is an interesting look into the public’s twisted fascination with the macabre.

Stern, Jessica. Denial: A Memoir of Terror

This story discusses the trauma of post traumatic stress as a result of sexual abuse and other forms of physical and mental abuse. Written from the viewpoint of a scientist and former abuse victim, this haunting investigation will entice readers who were interested in the sexual abuse and psychological trauma angles of In the Woods.

Devil in a Blue Dress

October 17, 2012


Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Mosley, Walter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: 1948, Post WWII

Series: Easy Rawlins

Plot Summary: Set in Los Angeles in 1948, this gritty novel follows Ezekiel Rawlins who goes by Easy.  An African-American WWII veteran, Easy just wants to enjoy his life and hold onto the house he worked so hard to get but he has just lost his factory job.  Easy tries to forget his troubles at his friend Joppy’s bar when he is offered money by the mysterious, white gentleman DeWitt Albright.  All he has to do is track down French beauty Daphne Monet, a lady who is said to frequent black jazz clubs, and he will have enough money to pay this month’s mortgage.  But what starts out as a straightforward mission leads to increasing danger and threats to his life.  With bodies piling up and the police eager to pin the crimes on him, Easy must find Daphne and solve this mystery in order to stay alive.  Winner of the Shamus best P.I. novel award and the first in the Easy Rawlins series, this book introduces a complex and engaging protagonist who goes from reluctant to empowered private investigator while also dealing with racial tensions during the 1940’s Los Angeles.  Mystery lovers can enjoy this private investigator novel that looks at social issues while also delivering an atmospheric, evocative story that has the feel of a film noir.  They can also watch the movie version of this starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

Subject Headings: African-American Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Los Angeles, California, Private Investigators, Race Relations, Rawlins, Easy, African American Men, Organized Crime, Missing persons investigation, The Forties (20th century), Gangsters, Political Corruption

Appeal: Builds in intensity Pacing, Edgy, Character-driven, Suspenseful, Intriguing Characters, Well-drawn Characters, Gritty, Historical Details, Issue-oriented, Stark, Investigative, Thought-provoking, Strong Language, Time period dialect, Atmospheric, Evocative

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Gritty, Historical details, Investigative

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

Set against the racially tense backdrop of Memphis in 1968, this historical mystery follows the activities of African-American private investigator Smokey Dalton.  He finds out that he is the recipient of $10,000 through rich,white Chicago heiress Laura Hathaway’s mother’s will.  Laura wants to know why Smokey was named the beneficiary, as does Smokey.  This search for answers leads to danger and mysteries for Smokey.  Another historical mystery novel that features an engaging African-American private detective narrator, while also offering an atmospheric story that deals with racial issues.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

In this noir fiction set in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, the story follows three troubled LAPD officers Ed Exley, Bud White and Jack “Trashcan” Vincennes as they deal with crime, corruption and violence over a 10-year period.  Enjoy this mystery novel that deals with corruption and violence during a similar time period.  Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this was made into a movie.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In this classic noir novel, San Francisco detective Sam Spade must deal with his partner being killed in a stakeout, a valuable statue of a falcon being wanted, the appearance and disappearance of a mysterious redhead and enemies demanding a payoff that Sam does not have.  The stakes are high and Sam must figure out how to get out of this mess and get some answers.  Here is the go-to novel for a gritty, noir detective story.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein

If you want to delve a bit deeper into some of the racial issues explored in Devil in a Blue Dress, try this book that explores three American families whose self-identified race shifted from black to white over the years.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Delve even deeper into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles from the1920s through the 1960s.  It dives into the world of crime, corruption, and violence along with the racial tensions of the city.  This book is suggested for those who wanted more details regarding the historical setting presented in Devil in a Blue Dress.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia by Alan Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio

Did you enjoy the book as well as the movie?  Then try this encyclopedia that covers film noirs in detail.  It explores the themes and motifs of the genre, while featuring pictures and stills of the movies and their stars.

Name: Margita Lidaka