Posts Tagged ‘closed ending’

Code Name Verity

September 26, 2012

Title:  Code Name Verity

Author:  Elizabeth Wein

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  343

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain and France

Time Period:  World War II (1943)

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: 

An unnamed young woman, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France during WWII, agrees to turn over information about the British War Effort.  Her confession weaves together characters and conditions of her current situation with stories from her past, describing her friendship with Maddie, the pilot of the plane who flew them to France and crashed.  Though Code Name Verity is a suspenseful spy novel, above all else it is a story of friendship and survival, courageous and heart breaking.

Subject Headings:  World War, 1939-1945; Great Britain History; France History German occupation; Insurgency; Nazis; Women air pilots; Espionage; Friendship.

Appeal:  character-driven; suspenseful; compelling; intense; moving; thought-provoking; cross-class friendship; courage; survival; details about period aircraft and flying; women’s involvement in the war effort; stylistically complex; intricately plotted; unreliable narrator; multiple narrators; diary fiction; flashbacks; closed ending; war story; spy story; World War II story.

3 appeal terms that best describe this work:  compelling, character-driven, friendship

Similar/Relevant Authors and Works (Fiction):

Tamar by Mal Peet

After the death of her beloved grandfather, Tamar inherits a box containing clues and coded messages, leading her on a journey to uncover the truth about her family and its secrets, stemming from involvement with resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II.  Tamar and Code Name Verity are both compelling, suspenseful, intricately plotted stories involving secrets and betrayal, set during World War II.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Death narrates the story of Liesl, a young girl living with foster parents in Nazi Germany, for whom stealing books, with their stories and later her own, is a way to survive the horrors of war.  Readers who enjoy moving, character-driven, stylistically complex stories may enjoy The Book Thief and Code Name Verity; both books also involve secrets and survival during World War II.

Yossel by Joe Kubert

A graphic novel set in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, Yossel portrays the harsh life and conditions in Nazi-occupied Poland, told by a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy through his sketches.  Readers interested in exploring more stories about World War II and the Resistance movement that are moving, thought-provoking, and character-driven may be interested in this book.

Similar/Relevant Authors and Works (Nonfiction):

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm

After WWII, Vera Atkins, a high-ranking female officer of a British Intelligence unit, investigated the fates of agents who had disappeared during the war.  Readers interested in learning more about the British Intelligence unit and its involvement with the resistance movement during WWII may enjoy this book, as could readers interested in reading about the involvement of women in the war effort.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Jan, helped many Jews escape the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII by hiding them in their home and in the empty cages of the Warsaw Zoo, which had been heavily damaged during a Nazi bombing of the city.  Readers interested in finding more stories about courage and survival during WWII may be interested in this dramatic tale of compassion and heroism in the midst of war.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

In this graphic novel memoir, the author/illustrator portrays his father’s experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland and imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp.  Readers looking for intense, moving and thought-provoking stories about survival during WWII may be interested in discovering this title.

Name:  Nicole

Malice

February 22, 2012

Author: Lisa Jackson

Title: Malice

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: March 2009

Number of Pages: 480/ Number of Compact Discs: 13 unabridged

Geographical Setting: Southern California

Time Period: Present

Series: Bentz/Montoya, New Orleans Series

Plot Summary:

Malice is a suspenseful, fast-paced story that takes a straight-shooting police officer and places him in an impossible situation. Upon awakening from a coma, Rick Bentz is haunted by sightings of his ex-wife Jennifer. The same woman whose body he identified in a fatal car crash 12 years earlier. When he receives a package with fresh pictures of Jennifer and a copy of her birth certificate with a question mark written on it, Bentz journeys back to California and a sorrowful past he left behind there. His presence sets off a string of murders, menacing phone calls, and more sightings of his dead ex-wife.

Malice is an action-oriented story that pulls the reader along thanks to Jackson’s concise writing and knack for creating intrigue. The reader is implicitly invited to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together, gaining access to other perspectives besides the main protagonist. Jackson combines multiple plot threads and threats in short, sparse chapters that keep the material from being confusing or complex. This is the sixth book in a series, and offers a more in-depth look at a popular character’s past, which in turn makes it a touch more psychological than other bestseller of the week suspense tales. It is moody and serious. The plot is sprinkled with romance as it explores both Rick’s marriage to his current wife Olivia, but the book is focused on suspense and intrigue as Rick races to solve the mystery of why he was led to southern California.

Readers who enjoy clear-cut characters and closed-endings will be happy to know characters are generally familiar and recognizable as good or bad. The ending is definitively closed and ties up all the plot threads neatly.

Subject Headings: Detectives, Serial murders, Husband and wife, Widowers, Secrets, Murder suspects, Serial murderers

Appeal: suspenseful, plot oriented, concise, familiar characters, closed ending, menacing, mysterious, puzzling, thrilling, action filled, multiple plot threads, different POVs (including serial killer), haunting, psychological

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, menacing, thrilling

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Women: why mothers, daughters, and sisters become stalkers, molesters, and murderers, by Larry A. Morris – Jennifer is a compulsive cheater who propels Rick Bentz to return to Southern California and find out if she is still alive and plotting revenge against him for her death 12 years earlier. Readers may enjoy this exploration of what causes women to behave psychotically.

Mistaken identity: two families, one survivor, unwavering hope, by Don Van Ryn – Rick spends nearly the entire book second-guessing his identification of Jennifer’s body at the scene of her car accident. Ryn’s book follows a true case of mistaken identity thanks to a car accident.

In the Still of the Night, by Ann Rule – It is revealed in the prologue that Jennifer did not kill herself but was instead being stalked by someone who may have murdered her. Rule’s true crime story follows the investigation of a death ruled as a suicide but may have been a murder.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Drop, by Michael Connelly – Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch investigates a serial killer and deals with office politics and corruption in this fast-paced but more character-driven mystery story also set in California and focusing on a long-unsolved mystery.

Cold Vengeance, by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child – FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast tries to figure out the details of his wife’s bizarre death 12 years ago and begins to believe it may have been a part of a greater conspiracy in this plot-driven, suspenseful tale that delves into ideas of the occult. (Note: this is a part of a sequence in a larger series; readers may want to at least start with the preceding book, Fever Dream).

Stealing Shadows, by Kay Hooper – Readers who enjoy the psychic yet realistic character of Olivia Bentz may also like Hooper’s protagonist Cassie Neill. Neill is a member of the LAPD who has used her telepathic powers to try and stop serial killers in this fast-paced romantic suspense tale.

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell

September 28, 2011

Author: Loraine Despres

Title: The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell

Genre: Historical fiction, Humorous, Romance

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 335

Geographical Setting: Gentry, Louisiana, USA

Time Period: 1920

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Widowed, rebellious Belle Cantrell is fighting for the vote in a small, Louisiana town in 1920 when she meets the mysterious, Chicagoan Rafe Rubenstein.  Belle tries to stay within the rules of  The Primer of Propriety for a lady but sometimes can’t help herself from indulging in some rule breaking.

Subject Headings: Women’s lives, Louisiana, 1920’s United States, women’s rights, suffrage movement

Appeal: atmospheric, gentle, relaxed writing, engaging, humorous, eccentric characters, flawed characters, closed-ending, character-driven, rural, small-town, conversational, nostalgic, impassioned

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Humorous, romantic, strong sense of place

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment by Eleanor Cliff. The history of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot by Mary Walton. Biography of Alice Paul, a leader in the suffrage movement in the United States, who created the ‘Silent Sentinels’ were the first to picket the White House using peaceful civil disobedience.

Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement by Sally Gregory McMillen. Provides the early history of the women’s rights movement starting with the 1848 Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention and its impact on the movement and future women’s issues.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg.  This heartwarming novel is set in the southern United States1930’s with strong, unconventional female leads. The characters encounter racism in their small town while finding love

Loose Lips by Rita Mae Brown. Estranged sisters in small town Maryland are forced to open a beauty salon together during World War II with conversational writing  and a strong sense of place.

 The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora WeltyA widowed women returns home to Mississippi but eventually better understands herself and her family in this nostalgic, moving novel.

Name: Noelle Swanson

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife

January 12, 2009

Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Author: Niffenegger, Audrey

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 518

Genre: Literary Fiction

Geographical Setting: Chicago and Michigan

Time Period: 1970s-2053

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Henry De Tamble is a librarian at the Newberry Library; he also has a condition known as “Chrono Displacement Disorder.” It seems Henry cannot stay in the present; he is constantly and unexpectedly being pulled into another time—dropped completely naked in a parking garage, a field, a city street (he never knows why, when, or where). When the book opens, Henry is meeting his future wife, Clare, for the first time, well at least the first time for him age wise. Actually, an older Henry has been visiting Clare since she was 6 years old. What follows is a moving love story. It is the tale of Henry and Clare’s life together, with all of the normal ups and downs of any relationship, plus the added stress of Henrys time travel. The novel alternates between Henry and Clare’s points of view, with clear demarcations at the beginning of each chapter as to the year (which is essential because of the time travel and Henry’s tendency to be two different ages at the “same” time) and who is speaking. Niffenegger’s highly original novel is engaging, interesting, richly layered, and extremely moving; it is a testament to the power of true love.

Subject Headings: Married People; Domestic Fiction; Fantasy Fiction; Time Travel; Librarians; Women Artists; Fate and Fatalism; Love; Chicago, Illinois; Newberry Library, Chicago; Love Stories; Eccentrics and Eccentricities.

Appeal: character centered, domestic, layered, shifting points of view, bounces around in time, extremely thought provoking, leisurely paced, plot builds deliberately, lots of foreshadowing, realistic despite the fantasy elements, bittersweet, descriptions of Chicago neighborhoods and institutions, conversational, intimate, candid, closed ending.

3 Terms for Book: time-travel, original, moving love story

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Dickinson, Charles—A Shortcut in Time(IL setting, time travel, its effect on personal relationships); Gabaldon, Diana—The Outlander Series (Time Travel, romance); Greer, Andrew Sean—The Confessions of Max Tivoli (A love story in which the man ages backwards); Winston, Lolly—Good Grief (A young woman dealing with the death of her husband. Henry’s condition forces Clare to live without him for long periods of time without knowing if he’d ever return)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Gott, J. Richard—Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time(time travel, popular science); Grossman, James—The Encyclopedia of Chicago (use it to look up all of the places mentioned throughout the novel); Larson, Erik- Devil in the White City (Chicago history, fantastic but true elements)

Name: Becky