Posts Tagged ‘colloquial’

Where the River Runs

September 26, 2012

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Author: Richard S. Wheeler

Title: Where the River Runs

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 180

Geographical Setting: The West (United States)

Time Period: 1840s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jedediah (Jed) Owen leads a group of twelve men on a mission to bring peace to the Indian nations. After leaving from Fort Leavenworth and traveling through the Missouri River to Fort Union on the American Fur Company steamboat, they disappear. Jed’s journey in the wilderness includes viewing the deaths of all of the other members of his group, surviving the trip and dealing with Indians along the way. Several months pass by; not hearing from Jedd, his fiancée Susannah St. George goes on a mission to find him. Susannah hires Jean Gallant, who works for the American Fur Company; to help find her fiancée. She knows that he is somewhere out there. The book explores the journeys of Jedd and Susannah in this book about love in the Wild West.

Subject Headings: missing persons; wilderness survival; Indians of North American; scouting (reconnaissance), Piegan Indians; pioneer women; the forties (19th century); nineteenth century

Appeal: colloquial, descriptive, detailed setting, dramatic, fast-paced, homespun, investigative, menacing atmosphere, multiple points of view, nostalgic, romantic, rural

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: menacing atmosphere; nostalgic; romantic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

-De Voto, Bernard Augustine, 1897-1955, Across the Wide Missouri (fur trade in middle 1800s, information on the American Fur Company)

-Dary, David, The Oregon Trail: an American saga (describes the difficult travels and lives of groups of people traveling through the Wild   West)

-DeLay, Brain 1971- War of a thousand deserts: Indian raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (describes tension between Americans and Indians in 1840s, explains the economic and societal state U.S. in 1840s)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

-Zollinger, Norman, Meridian: A Novel of Kit’s Carson’s West (set in 1840s, conquest of the west)

-Blevins, Winfred, So wild a dream (adventure to the west in frontier west)

-Compton, Ralph, The Shadow of a noose (brothers have mission looking for sister, brothers get into trouble on the way)

Name: Samantha Biegel

The Boys on the Rock

April 11, 2012

Author: John Fox

Title: The Boys on the Rock

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 146p.

Geographical Setting: Bronx, N.Y.

Time Period: 1968

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: It’s 1968 in the Bronx and Catholic High School sophomore, swim team star, and narrator Billy Connor is gay and knows it and likes it.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to explore his sexuality in very frequent, detailed, creative, and enthusiastic masturbation sessions that the reader will come to know very well.  Billy, not wanting to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, is a Gene McCarthy supporter who meets Al, the head of the local McCarthy campaign office.  Canvassing soon leads to lingering dinners at a pizzeria, which leads to making out, which of course leads to the sex that Billy has longed for.  Billy is very talented in graphic and detailed accounts of his and Al’s lovemaking, leaving not a thing to the reader’s imagination.  While Billy feels newly free and empowered by his relationship with Al, is it really love?  And is it a love that will last?  With the tumultuous Democratic presidential primary and a colorful cast of neighborhood friends and eccentrics as a constant backdrop, Billy brings the reader along for the first few baby steps he will take onto the path that will lead him to the man he will become.

Subject Headings: Coming of age stories, Gay teenagers, Eroticism, U.S. history–1968, Presidential elections–1968, First love, Homosexuality, Graphic sex–homosexual, Graphic sex–heterosexual, Political assassination, Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Bronx, Competitive swimming, Catholic school, Homophobia, Nostalgia, Masturbation.

Appeal: Quick-paced, bittersweet, candid, passionate, adolescent, horny, dramatic, edgy, sexual, graphic, gritty, impassioned, nostalgic, naive, sensual, romantic, unpretentious, foul-mouthed, colorful, unrelenting, rebellious, melancholy, vivid, sexually explicit, steamy, issue-oriented, introspective, retrospective, political, historical detail, urban, colloquial, dialect, direct, unaffected, hormonal, empowering, gay, sweaty, messy, intimate, personal discovery, sexual discovery.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: adolescent, gritty, sexually explicit.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano

The Joy of Lesbian Sex: A Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle by Dr. Emily L. Sisley and Bertha Harris

Yes, I know three books are not one book, but I feel I must evoke an “apples and oranges” (and “pears”[?]) exception in this case.  For people that may find appeal in any of these works, two titles will be completely useless (sort of) to them.  And the goal is to be able to satisfy 100% of readers, yes?

There is so much graphic sex and language in Boys that it would seem almost impossible that a reader wouldn’t take some stock of their own romantic life at some point.  These seminal, highly respected, and somewhat clinical works are certainly the “safe” and “tasteful” (yet graphically illustrated) suggestions that could be a stepping off point for a reader who may want to explore better or newer ways in which to get their freak on.

Time 1968: War Abroad, Riots at Home, Fallen Leaders and Lunar Dreams

The United States +1968= CRAZY: MLK shot, RFK shot, protests, race riots, political riots, cities on fire, Vietnam, Tet Offensive, Chicago Democratic Convention (police beatings and rioting and the MC5, for those too young), drugs, sex, rock and roll, men on the moon—and those are just the headlines.

While the rebellion, protest, and awakening of Billy’s 1968 took place mostly in his head and underwear, there is much happening around him that will inform a bevvy of decisions, political and not.  Here is an overview of that year with lots of color pictures.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

One year later from Billy’s awakening, the gay community of Greenwich Village rose up against police harassment to spark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  I can vividly picture Billy chanting slogans and punching cops in the face.  Here is a timeline of the events leading up to, and the riots themselves, as well as the aftermath.  This comprehensive account is the result of hundreds of interviews, public and sealed files, and a decade of research.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Forever by Judy Blume

If one took a plot synopsis of Boys and replaced the Bronx with a woodsy, well-to-do suburb, and weekends of beer in the park with ski trips, and animalistic gay sex with meticulously thought-out hetero sex, and Billy with a Katherine, and a cowardly Al with an impossibly sensitive Michael and then washed everyone’s mouths out with soap, one would be left holding a copy of Forever. Had those who have taken the often challenged Forever (ALA 7th all-time) to trial had known that Boys may have been right around the corner, I shudder to think at the number of libraries that may have burned.  While certainly trying to please entirely different audiences, these two books are identical thematically, giving Forever large appeal to the reader who may have picked up Boys hoping for a sentimental tale of teenage sexual awakening, but just not as sticky.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Luckily for the high-school kids that populate Boy Meets Boy, Levithan has created a bizarro-world town where there is no prejudice of any sort, especially sexual.  This bodes well for a school that features a Harley riding cheerleading squad and a cross-dressing star quarterback/Homecoming Queen.  The book centers on Paul, who thinks he finally may have found true love in Noah.  Simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, Levithan brilliantly illustrates that freed of the burden of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance these are just kids, whatever their sexual orientation, awkwardly trying to find their place in the world and maybe a little happiness, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 by D.L. King, Giselle Renarde, Kathleen Warnock and Kirsty Logan

Best Gay Erotica 2011 by Johnny Murdoc, Natty Soltesz, and Rob Wolfsham

Sweet Confessions: Erotic Fantasies for Couples by Violet Blue

Again, I must use the “apples and oranges” rule exception.  For any reader of Boys that enjoyed the very detailed and descriptive sex scenes, here you go: a little something for everyone.

Name: Bill S.

The Next Always

April 4, 2012

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Boonsboro, Maryland

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): Book One of The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy

Plot Summary: Clare is a war widow who has returned to her hometown with her three young sons.  Beckett Montgomery and his brothers are remodeling the Inn BoonsBoro, which happens to be across the street from Clare’s bookshop.  Beckett’s unrequited love for his best friend’s widow may finally have a chance now that Clare’s moved back to their quaint hometown. The author’s richly detailed descriptions of the small town and the remodeling project with a touch of the supernatural nicely frame the budding romance between Clare and Beckett .

Subject Headings: Small towns; Historic buildings – conservation and restoration; Second chances; Architects; Infatuation; Hotels; Single mothers; Widows; Booksellers; Homecomings; Small town life; First loves; Men/women relations.

Appeal: easy, engrossing, descriptive, richly detailed, strong sense of place, leisurely-paced, relaxed, unhurried, atmospheric, comfortable, heartwarming, hopeful, lighthearted, magical, optimistic, romantic, engaging, familiar, realistic, recognizable, series (characters), strong secondary characters, sympathetic, contemporary, detailed setting, small-town, accessible, colloquial, conversational, simple, unembellished, details of small town, details of restoration of old building.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: comfortable; heartwarming; richly detailed.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Under the Tuscan Sun  by Frances Mayes.  Under the Tuscan Sun and The Next Always both evoke strong sense of place using lush descriptions of the small towns where the story takes place and rich details of renovating once magnificent buildings (Mayes a countryside villa and Roberts an Inn).  Both also follow a love story that is framed by the restoration process.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran.  Doran amusingly recounts his relocation from LA where he was a TV producer to a tiny Tuscan town where he and his wife embark upon remodeling a 300 year old farmhouse. Doran’s optimism and witty commentary lead up to a happy-ever-after that The Next Always readers will appreciate.

My Boyfriend’s Back: True Stories of Rediscovering Love with a Long-Lost Sweetheart by Donna Hanover.  Beckett’s love for Clare has been unrequited since high school, but he gets a second chance with her in The Next Always.  Like the title suggests, My Boyfriend’s Back explores true stories of first loves rekindled later on in life. Both books will leave readers feeling hopeful about loves from the past.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Wedding Dress by Virginia Ellis. This light, heart-warming historical fiction by Ellis (who typically authors romance novels) centers around a Civil War widow and her sisters as they try to find hope in a bleak post-war life by sewing a wedding dress for the youngest sister.  Like The Next Always, The Wedding Dress offers hope, love, a happy ending, and even a ghostly twist.

The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods.  This is the heartwarming first book of in the contemporary romance series, Chesapeake Shores.  Like the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, Chesapeake Shores is about second chances and men/women relations and gives readers a strong sense of place.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr.  Virgin River is a leisurely-paced contemporary romance about a widow looking to start over in a small town.  A strong sense of place and a heartwarming story will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Next Always.

Name: Ally C.

The Tall Stranger

February 15, 2012

Author: Louis L Amour

Title: The Tall Stranger

Genre: Westen

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages:126

Geographical Setting: Western United States

Time Period: Oregon Trail/Wild West

Plot Summary: Much like the other works of Louis L’Amour, this story concerns traveling to the Western United States in order to find a better life. Rock Bannon, a dedicated but solitary man finds himself heading west with a group of men from the East, none of which trust him. The group is lead by the charismatic and devious Mort Harper, who quickly becomes leader of the group, even though Rock does not trust his motives. As they move further from the tail Rock knows will lead them to a better life, he questions the morals and decision making of Mort and must decide whether to venture on his own or help his fellow travelers, including the beautiful Sharon.

Subject Headings:

Wagon trains — Oregon Trail
Pioneers — The West (United States)
Outlaws — The West (United States)
Frontier and pioneer life — The West (United States)

Appeal: Plot-driven, action-oriented, fast-paced, gritty, close-ended, details of western life, colloquial, unembellished, hard-edged, recognizable characters, physical, violent, cinematic

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: plot-driven, gritty, fast-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth – William W. Savage Jr.

This book discusses the image of the cowboy in popular American culture, from the Western novel to the cinematic masterpieces and advertisements.

Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Luke Short and Others – W.B. Masterson

Deals with the history of some of America’s most interesting  cowboys and gunslingers and the men behind their  infamous names.

The Oregon Tail: A Photographic Journey – Bill Moeller

This book is comprised of photographs of The Oregon Trail, both of how it looks now and how it looked to emigrants to the West. It includes entries from diaries of those traveling on the trail during the 1800s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Town Called Fury – William W. Johnstone 

Features stand-offs with Native Americans, an attack on a westward travelling wagon and a revenge plot of one man dedicated to right the wrongs done unto his family.

Last Reville – David Morrell

A fast-paced novel in which a talented scout on the Mexican border fights to eradicate Pancho Villa from the US while becoming a mentor to a young man.

War Cry – West Charles

A gritty yet romantic story in which scout Will Cason saves a woman and finds himself the enemy of a group of Native Americans determined to destroy him.

Name: Courtney Rose

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

November 9, 2011

Author: Mary Roach

Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 303

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary, With Some Visits to the Past

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In Stiff: The curious Lives of Human Cadavers, author Mary Roach does the impossible and makes the story of human cadavers humorous. Most people are very uncomfortable discussing what happens to the body after death, and the subject becomes even more difficult when religion is thrown in. Roach approaches the subject with a light-hearted approach and it soon becomes apparent that one needs to keep a sense of humor when it comes to corpses. Roach delves into some history, from the grotesque practices of pre-20th century anatomy labs to the infamous 19th century case of Burke and Hare, who murdered their victims in order to sell the bodies to anatomy labs. Roach looks at modern-day medical school practices when it comes to corpses, which are thankfully handled with much more dignity and with the consent of the deceased. In one particularly colorful chapter, Roach visits the cadaver farm at the University of Tennessee, where decomposing bodies are studied to help advance criminal forensics. Roach also looks at other ways corpses can be useful, including tests to see how humans are affected by car and airplane crashes, and the impact of bullets and bombs on a body. Stiff is really a tribute to the anonymous people who decide that they want their bodies to have a purpose after death, to help save millions of lives, since our bodies will all decompose eventually anyway.

Subject Headings: Cadavers, Human Remains, Death, Human Dissection, Medical Study

Appeal: Relaxed Pace, Lighthearted, Humorous, Macabre, Accessible, Engaging, Detailed, Colloquial, Well-researched, Witty, Educational, Informative

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Humorous, Macabre, Well-researched

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1) The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford. Besides being referenced numerous time in Stiff, readers will enjoy the similar humorous tone of this exposé about the American funeral industry.

2) Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. This book describes in more detail the body farm mentioned in Stiff, narrated in a witty and humorous tone by the doctor who founded the farm.

3) Elephants on Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese. For readers craving more strange scientific experiments like the ones mentioned in Stiff, these short and amusing stories will satisfy their cravings.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales (Oxford World’s Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson. This classic story is evocative of the dark streets of 19th century London, a world in which the murderers and corpse thieves, Burke and Hare, thrived.

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This classic tale of science experimentation gone bad is reminiscent of some of the experiments mentioned in Stiff, such as trying to resuscitate a freshly guillotined head.

3) Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. This book is part of the Temperance Brennan mystery series. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and in this story, goes to a crash site in the North Carolina mountains to identify bodies of the victims, but finds a body that was not on the plane. Readers of Stiff will enjoy this detailed look at the work of a forensic anthropologist.

Name: Elizabeth Allen

Lone Survivor

August 8, 2011

Author:  Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson

Title:  Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and The Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10

Genre:  Non-fiction, Current Events and Politics, History Writing

Publication Date:  June 2007

Number of Pages:  388

Geographical Setting:  United States & Afghanistan

Time Period:  1999 – 2005

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  This amazing true story follows Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell as he and his team carry out a difficult mission to take down a terrorist leader in Afghanistan.  Told in first-person, the story begins with Marcus traveling around the U.S. visiting the families of his fallen comrades.  It then goes on to switch between the beginnings of the mission and the intense SEAL training that eventually led Marcus overseas.  The battle between Marcus and his three fellow SEALs against 150 Taliban fighters is told in gritty detail, followed by Marcus’s amazing survival and his eventual rescue by the U.S. Army.

Subject Headings:  Luttrell, Marcus; United States, Navy, Sea Air Land Team; United States, Navy – Officers; Afghan War, 2001- – Campaigns; Afghan War, 2001- — Personal narratives, American

Appeal:  Fast-paced, moving, suspenseful, gritty, sobering, inspiring, detailed, candid, colloquial, straightforward, contemporary, detailed setting

3 terms that best describe this book:  Fascinating, moving, inspiring

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

–       Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard E. Wasdin – This is a similar title that takes an in-depth look at the training that Navy SEALs go through and the dangerous missions that they carry out.  While Lone Survivor goes in depth about the SEAL training process, this title takes readers through the training at the Marine’s Scout Sniper School.  Both are fascinating, fast-paced reads written by ex-Navy SEALs about gritty situations.

–       War by Sebastian Junger – Similar to Lone Survivor, this is a story of current events and politics that is compelling and fast-paced.  It follows a platoon over 15 months during the Afghanistan War, as is being fought in Lone Survivor, told from an objective third-party.

–       The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 by Dick Couch – This is a third-person account of the training that Navy SEALs go through to become the most elite fighters in the United States forces.  SEAL Class 228 is also the class that Marcus Luttrell was a part of.  Similar to Lone Survivor, this is a richly detailed, fascinating read for anyone interested in learning more about the Navy SEALs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

–       The Last Patriot by Brad Thor – This novel is similarly fast-paced and suspenseful with a former Navy SEAL as the protagonist.

–       Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn – This fast-paced and suspenseful novel also takes place in the Middle East where the U.S. must try to stop retaliation from Middle East forces, similar to the mission in Lone Survivor.

–       Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy – Clancy’s newest novel is similarly fast-paced and suspenseful with an ex-Navy SEAL protagonist that is trying to protect the U.S. from Taliban terrorists.

Name:  Julie F.

Garlic and Sapphires

August 8, 2011

Author:  Ruth Reichl

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

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  333

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  1990’s

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

Subject Headings:  Autobiographies; Food Writing; Food Memoirs

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

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

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

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

Name:  Mieko Fujiura

Room

August 1, 2011

Author:  Emma Donoghue

Title:  Room

Genre:  Literary Fiction, Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  Sept. 2010

Number of Pages:  321

Geographical Setting:  Unknown, probably America or Canada

Time Period:  Today

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  Ma has lived in Room for seven years, a shed converted into a soundproof locked prison by a disturbed middle-aged man.  She was kidnapped from her college campus at 19 and had her son Jack two years later.  The story is told from Jack’s innocent point of view as readers are introduced to life inside Room, their daring escape plan, and life after their rescue in Outside.  The world is brand new to Jack and we explore this big, strange place alongside him in this hauntingly sad story.

Subject Headings:  Psychological Suspense, Kidnapping

Appeal:  Fast-paced, compelling, disturbing, haunting, suspenseful, poignant, lifelike, vivid, character-driven, linear, tragic, colloquial

3 terms that best describe this book: haunting, lifelike, compelling

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

–       A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard – This is the memoir of Jaycee Dugard, a woman held prisoner for eighteen years by a deranged couple.  Jacyee had two children by this man and raised them in conditions similar to those created by Donoghue in Room.

–       Escape by Carolyn Jessop – The story of a forced into a plural marriage in her teens and how she escaped with her eight children.  Similar to Room, it deals with family and relationships and escaping a terrible situation.

–       Invisible Chains: Shawn Hornbeck and the Kidnapping that Shook the Nation by Kristina Sauerwein – Similar to Jaycee Dugard’s story, this was another national case of abduction and recovery examined and retold here from the third-person.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

–       Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock – Story of two siblings that plan to runaway and escape their abusive stepfather, similar to Jack and Ma’s escape from their horrible situation.  Similar to Room, the story is told from the point of view of a child.

–       The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – Though more detailed and gruesome than Room, this book also deals with rape and abduction and its impact on the victim’s family and is narrated by the affected child.

–       Still Missing by Chevy Stevens – Story is also about the abduction of a woman, told as she recounts the year she spent as a prisoner hidden in the woods to police while they search for her captor.

Name:  Julie F.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

April 20, 2011

 
  Author: Junot Diaz

  Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

  Genre: Literary Fiction, Latino Fiction

  Publication Date: 2007

  Number of Pages: 335

  Geographical Setting: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and New Jersey

  Time Period: 1940s – early 1990s

Plot Summary:
Focusing primarily on Oscar, an obese Dominican-American sci-fi nerd searching for love and acceptance in New Jersey, Junot Diaz recounts the damage wrought on the de Leon family by the fuku, a supernatural curse that has tormented the family for several generations. Diaz’s narrator traces the fuku from its origins in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Trujillo to its current home in New Jersey where it wreaks havoc on Oscar.

The conversational tone of this family saga leavens the darkness of the tragedy at play. While disaster plagues the de Leons at every turn, they love deeply and fiercely, and the complicated bonds between family members and lovers drive most of the action of novel. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a compelling look at life in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era and the Dominican-American experience as an immigrant in New Jersey.

Subject Headings:
Family relationships, Men/women relations, Curses, Dominican-Americans, Latinos, New Jersey, Dominican Republic, Loss, Misfits, Social acceptance, Trujillo, Dictatorship, Ghettos

Appeal:
Tragic, conversational, unpretentious, compelling, episodic, descriptive, introspective, character-centered, flawed characters, multiple points of view, authentic, urban, vivid, dialect, colloquial

3 terms that best describe this book:
Tragic, conversational, Latino

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis
Three generations of women search for love and identity in Uruguay during the politically turbulent 20th century.
Similarities: Multigenerational family saga, coming of age under a Hispanic dictator (Uruguay), character Eva becomes a writer

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
Coming-of-age tale of Dylan and Mingus, two friends growing up in a racially charged area of Brooklyn in the 70s, and the diverging paths their lives take in adulthood.
Similarities: Urban setting, precocious protagonists, fantastic elements

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
Ka’s father reveals that he was actually a prison guard – a torturer – under the Haitian dictator Duvalier and not the prison escapee he previously claimed. The narrative jumps between past and present to tell the tales of those he hurt and how his revelation affects his relationship with his daughter.
Similarities: Multiple narrative threads, alternating between past and present, family relationships, atrocities committed during a dictatorship (Haiti)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola by Michele Wucker
A social history of Hispaniola and the two island nations that struggle for supremacy over the land. Includes discussion of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s genocide of Haitians and the cultural differences that fuel their misunderstandings.
Similarities: Dominican Republic setting, discussion of the Trujillo regime, Diaz mentions the enmity existing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez
Bestselling author Julia Alvarez muses on her upbringing as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, trying to assimilate in New York, how she became a writer, and her experiences as a feminist
Similarities: Alvarez immigrated from the Dominican Republic, Oscar is also a writer

Musings and Meditations: Reflections on Science Fiction, Science, and Other Matters by Robert Silverberg
A collection of essays written by the acclaimed science fiction writer provide insight into the craft of writing and the science fiction genre.
Similarities: Oscar is a science fiction writer

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

My Jim by Nancy Rawles

April 20, 2011

Author: Nancy Rawles

Title: My Jim

Genre: Historical Fiction; Love Stories; Psychological Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 174

Geographical Setting: Southern United States, Mississippi River

Time Period: 19th Century

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Sadie Watson wants to help her granddaughter her free granddaughter, Marianne Libre, understand the risks of love.  To do so, she recounts the tale of her own love of her life, Jim.  We already know Jim from Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and now we can begin to understand Sadie’s side of their story.  Sadie and Jim were both young seers and slaves, but when faced with being sold down the Mississippi River Jim escapes with Huck Finn and leaves Sadie to fend for herself.  Sadie is punished for Jim’s escape, loses her children, and is accused of being a witch but she never loses faith in her love for Jim and it is what carries her through her darkest days.

Subject Headings: African American Families – Fiction; Reminiscing in Old Age – Fiction; African American Women — Fiction

3 terms that best describe this book: Heart-wrenching, Harrowing, Compelling

Appeal: lyrical, character-driven, bittersweet, relaxed-pace, colloquial, atmospheric, bleak, dramatic, homespun, inspirational, reflective, sobering

Similar Authors and Works 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. A Free Black Girl Before the Civil War: The Diary of Charlotte Forten by Linda Clavel – ill.  This is the diary of a sixteen year old girl who is free in Massachusetts in 1854.  The diary discusses her schooling, work in the antislavery movement, and her concern for a particular fugitive slave.  This book gives a realistic portrayal of what life was like for a young African American woman during this period.
  2. Freeing Charles: The Struggle to free a slave on the eve of the civil war by Scott Christianson.  This novel recounts the story of a slave who escaped to freedom, was recaptured, and then forcibly freed by Harriet Tubman.  This well-researched book gives a deep look into race relations in the South during the Civil War era.
  3. A Renegade History of the United States by Russell Thaddeus.  This book takes a look at how people who have largely survived on the fringes of American society have been influential in creating labor unions, women’s liberation movements, and fighting for gay rights.  This book is a departure from the subjects of Civil War and slavery, but readers may enjoy the element of rebellion and courage in the face of adversity found in both this novel and My Jim.
  4. Note:  There is a lot of reading material on this subject – and readers may also enjoy autobiographies on Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  I have not included them here because they are easier to find than the books in this list, but are as equally important.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. Finn by Jon Clinch – this tells the story of Huckleberry Finn from the point of view of his father, the Judge, and his brother Will.  If you enjoyed the retelling of Jim’s story in My Jim then you may also enjoy this read.
  2. The Price of a Child by Lorene Cary.  This novel tells the story of a young mother who contacts the Underground Railroad to avoid being brought to Nicaragua.  If you were moved by Sadie’s story and impossible choices in My Jim then you may enjoy this novel as well.
  3. March by Geraldine Brooks.  This novel tells the story of Mr. March – the father in little women.  Like My Jim this book is inspired by a previous piece of fiction, but it is also a challenging story about a man who leaves his family to serve in the Civil War only to find that his beliefs are constantly challenged by his experiences.  This story gives another perspective to the harsh realities of life during the Civil War.

Name: Liz Humrickhouse