Posts Tagged ‘densely written’

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

November 7, 2012

Author:  Kate Summerscale

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

Genre:  Biography

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  291

Geographical Setting:  Scotland and England

Time Period:  Victorian Era, 1850-1859

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

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

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

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

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

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

Clara Callan by Richard Bruce Wright

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

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

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

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

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

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

 Darwin:  Portrait of a Genius by Paul Johnson

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

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

August 8, 2012

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War


Author: James Bradley

Title: The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

Genre: Nonfiction; History Writing (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 387

Geographical Setting: United States, Japan, East Asia, and Pacific Ocean

Time Period: 1905

Plot Summary: This book covers the historical cruise from the Pacific Islands to the continent of Asia made by defense secretary Taft and President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous daughter Alice along with other political figures of the time. This book reveals the prejudicial views of some of the most prominent leaders of the United States and exposes some tragic foreign policy decisions concerning Asia and the Pacific Islands. Although some may argue with some of the views or opinions presented in the book, it is well documented with over 30 pages of “Notes” at the end. It is filled with historic details including maps and original photographs from the time. This book has a journalistic tone, and is quite insightful and compelling.

Subject Headings: Roosevelt, Theodore; Taft, William H.; United States. Navy-Cruise; Imperialism; Diplomacy; War; Twentieth Century

Appeal: scholarly, compelling, journalistic, densely-written, sobering, insightful, investigative, thought-provoking, historical details, political, informative, well-researched, disturbing

3 terms that best describe this book: insightful, journalistic, historic details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Habits of Empire by Walter Nugent – If you enjoyed the historical perspective of the Teddy Roosevelt presidency in The Imperial Cruise, you may like this book that covers a broader range of American imperialism.

2.      Alice by Stacy Cordery – If you would like to find out more about Teddy Roosevelt’s famous daughter Alice who joined the historical cruise, you may enjoy this book.

3.      In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow – If you would like to read more about the history of the Philippines especially as related to the events in The Imperial Cruise, you may like this one.  

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Taft by Jason Heller – This plot-driven novel is about William Taft entering the 2012 election. If you enjoyed reading about Taft in The Imperial Cruise, you might enjoy this fiction novel.

2.      Cuba by Stephen Coonts – If you like to read about American imperialism set against a historical backdrop, you may like this book.

3.      To The Last Man by Jeff Shaara – This fiction novel is set during World War I. If you enjoy reading stories about politics and wars, you may enjoy this one.

Name: Patty Prodanich

Many a River

July 16, 2012

Author:  Elmer Kelton

Title: Many a River

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  Texas and New Mexico

Time Period:  Civil War era

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  The story of the Barfield brothers, who are small children traveling west when Comanche Indians attack their family and kill their parents.  Todd is taken by the Indians and sold, while Jeffrey manages to hide and is eventually picked up by some traveling militiamen and given a home.  The book follows the lives of each boy through adolescence as they get caught up in the drama of the Civil War in the Southwest.

Subject Headings:  Civil War period, Brothers, Indians of North America, Comanche Indians, Comanche Indians- Captivities, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Civil War, Coming-of-Age Stories, Western Stories

Appeal:  Densely written, detailed characterization, multiple points of view, complex story line, episodic, gentle, detailed setting, historical details, candid, simple, clean, stirring

3 terms that best describe this book: Densely written, Solid historical details, Multiple points of view

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 Manifest Destinies:  America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War– Steven Woodworth

A history of the 1840s, Manifest Destinies discusses how the acquisition of western territories forced the nation to come to grips with the approaching Civil War.

Rebel Private:  Front and Rear:  Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier– William A Fletcher

This surviving journal of a Confederate footsoldier details what life was really life in the trenches of the Civil War.  This memoir is a true-life version of Todd and Jeffrey’s time with the soldiers during the Civil War.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History– S.C. Gwynne

This book is the story of the Comanche Indians, and their battle with the American settlers for control of the West.  Would be a good choice for readers interested in the tribe that attacked the Barfields and kidnapped Todd.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Telegraph Days– Larry McMurtry

The story of two siblings orphaned by their father’s suicide who must move from their prosperous ranch to the nearby town and start new lives.  Telegraph Days is another descriptive Western story about siblings starting over after tragedy.

Runaways– Andrew Fenady

Fleeing the devastation of the Civil War, Shad Parker shuts himself away on his farm in Texas. The arrival of three orphans during Christmas week of 1867 gives him something to live for.  This inspiring novel features the same type of happy ending for young orphans in the West.

The Shadow of a Noose– Ralph Compton

Young twins Jed and Tim Strange set out to find their sister, who left home to avenge their father’s murder over a year ago. But when they’re accused of a murder they didn’t commit, they must go on the run to find the true killers.  This is another descriptive, atmospheric Western tale like Many a River.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Dear John

April 18, 2012

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Title: Dear John

Genre: Romance, historical fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: Audio book – 8 CDs

Geographical Setting: North Carolina, Iraq

Time Period: From late 1990s to 2007

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: John Tyree, a rebel turned responsible army soldier, meets the girl of his dreams on a short furlough from active duty. While courting each other, John and Savannah Lynn Curtis quickly realize that they may have found the greatest love of their lives. However, their long-distance relationship puts major strains on them – more than either could have imagined. John must ultimately choose between serving his country in the aftermath of 9/11 and settling down peacefully with his newfound love. Passionate and bittersweet, this novel will have readers questioning both their personal definitions of love, and what it means to truly love another.

Subject Headings: Love – Meanings, True love, Military life, 9/11, Habitat for Humanity, Cancer, Sacrifices, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Horses, North Carolina, Iraq

Appeal: Compelling, engrossing, densely written, detailed (characters), familiar (characters), intriguing secondary (characters), introspective (characters), layered, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, contemporary, details of army life, heartwarming, nostalgic, romantic, timeless, conversational, graceful, thoughtful

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, thought-provoking, romantic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1). Horses Never Lie About Love: A True Story by Jana Harris – This story tells of a physically and emotionally scarred horse, True Colors, who is terrified of humans, but that eventually learns to live peacefully and love both humans and a new foal in her life. Readers may be interested in this testimony to the power and meanings of love in the life of a majestic and passionate creature.

2). Surviving Iraq: Soldiers’ Stories by Elise Forbes Tripp – A collection of candid tales from 30 soldiers who have served in Iraq in recent years. Honest and bittersweet, these stories tell memories from the lips of those who have served – uncensored and in full.

3). The House That Love Built: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing by Bettie B. Youngs – The story of the founders of Habitat for Humanity, the world’s largest nonprofit homebuilding organization. This text will resonate with readers who are inspired by this organization and its mission to end homelessness and substandard housing through God’s love and the love of his people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1). A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans – This is the tale of a young woman who has become disgusted and nearly given up on finding romance in her life. While on vacation in Europe, Laura Foster meets the owner of a castle estate and unknowingly embarks on a new, and perhaps forever, romance.

2). In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor – This historical fiction work tells the tale of the collapse of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania dam in 1889. Though this event actually occurred, this story is fiction. Through this book, the author tells the stories of several different characters who live during this time, and who have vastly differing points of view. A bittersweet tale of love and destruction.

3). Look Back All the Green Valley by Fred Chappell – A nostalgic look at historical life in North Carolina with a man who is struggling with the deaths of his parents, and ultimately moving on in life. Jess Kirkman is amazed when he finds secret treasures among his father’s personal items that invite him to learn so much more about the man that had raised him.

Name: Melissa

Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

November 8, 2011

Author: Fatima Bhutto

Title: Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

Genre: Biography, World History

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 470

Geographical Setting: Pakistan

Time Period: 1933-present

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary: The Bhutto family is a politically powerful yet tragic Pakistani family. Fatima is only 14 years old when her father, a Member of Parliament of Pakistan, is murdered outside her family home in a controversial police encounter. Her father’s murder is just one of the many tragedies that haunt her family. Her grandfather, Zulkifar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first freely elected Prime Minister, is overthrown in a coup d’état and executed under the military dictatorship in 1979. Her aunt, Benazir Bhutto,
twice elected and first female Prime Minister was assassinated in 2007. Fatima provides a candid account into her family’s history beginning as feudal landowners to powerful politicians. Fatima searches the globe for friends, acquaintances and others who knew her family to learn more about her family. Songs of Blood and Sword also provides a political history of Pakistan from its formation and independence to present day.

Subject Headings: Pakistan-politics and government, Bhutto family, assassinations, coup d’état, fathers and daughters, Muslim women, international relations

Appeal: Densely written, political, historical details, academic, introspective, candid, descriptive, family-centered, tragic, evocative, authoritative, intimate, dramatic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Political, densely written, candid

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1.Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an unexpected life by Queen Noor. Born into a distinguished Arab-American
family and raised among privilege, Lisa Halaby never dreamt she would become Queen of Jordan.  This is her journey as the wife of a moderate, Arab monarch and her new-found role in the political
limelight.  Like Fatima Bhutto, Queen Noor is a strong female who takes on an unexpected political role in an Islamic country.

2.Daughters of the East by Benazir Bhutto. The autobiography of Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. It is the dramatic story of Bhutto’s upbringing, her ties to the tumultuous political history of her country, and her triumph of becoming one of the most powerful, influential world leaders. Fatima Bhutto’s aunt’s autobiography provides more memoirs of the political family.

3.Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven. Provides an account on 21st Century Pakistan
including the history, politics, environment issues, and government of the country. Pakistan has an important role in Asia with its relationship with the West and fighting against terror, as the most powerful and strongest army with a nuclear power in the region, and a burgeoning population. For those who want to learn more about present day Pakistan.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif. Hanif reimagines the conspiracies and coincidences that led to the plane crash that killed dictator General Zia ul-Hag, the man who orchestrated the coup d’état and execution of Fatima’s grandfather, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

2.In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: Connected stories by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Stories of intertwined lives of landowners and their servants and managers, providing a vivid account of feudal Pakistan. The Bhutto’s have long been a prominent family due to their feudal landlord history so this book may provide more of an insight in feudalism in Pakistan.

3. Sadika’s Way: A Novel of Pakistan and America by Hina Haq. Sadika is forced into an arranged marriage to an American first-cousin; however Sadika is picked over for her younger sister to become the man’s wife. Sadika’s failed marriage ruins her and her family’s reputation and her hopes of finding a suitable husband. Sadika chooses to travel to U.S. alone in hopes of escaping the regimented gender roles of her homeland. This first novel provides an insight in expectations of Pakistani women and their culture.

Name: Noelle Swanson



August 17, 2011


Author: Leslie Marmon Silko

Title:  Ceremony

Genre:  Native American Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1977, 2006

Number of Pages:  243

Geographical Setting:  WWII Japan, American West

Time Period: 1930s, WWII, post-World War II

Plot Summary: Tayo, a Native American World War II veteran, struggles with coming to terms with the death of his cousin in the war while trying to overcome “battle fatigue.” The story is ripe with flashbacks to the war and Tayo’s childhood on the reservation as well as traditional Laguna stories and tales.

Subject Headings: World War, 1939-1945 –Veterans –Fiction.

Laguna Indians — Fiction

Appeal: densely written, bleak, moving, introspective, character-driven, emotional, details of Laguna life, powerful, realistic, touching, thought provoking, deep, honest, well-crafted

3 terms that best describe this book: moving, character-driven, introspective


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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest – Craig Childs

Just as Tayo’s tribe was being to be “lost” in the white world, this book explores the lost civilization of the Anasazi tribe.

Spirit walker – Nancy Wood and Frank Howell

Native American poetry that draws on tradition and imagery.

Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony: A Casebook – Allan Chavkin

An academic look at Ceremony, including 14 essays that provide more information on Native American traditions.

3 relevant fiction works and authors:

War woman: a novel of the Real People – Robert J Conley

A novel based on the early struggles between the Cherokee and the Europeans. Tribal traditions and beliefs are woven into the story.

Love medicine – Louise Erdrich

Interwoven stories exploring the past and present struggles of Native tribes.

A yellow raft in blue water – Michael Dorris

A more modern look at the hardships of life on a reservation.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

August 1, 2011

Author: Haruki Murakami

Title: Kafka on the Shore

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002 (Original Publishing) 2005 (English Version)

Number of Pages: 407

Geographical Setting: Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku, Japan

Time Period: Late 20th century (1990-2000)

Plot Summary: This surreal narrative intertwines the stories of 15-year-old, runaway Kafka Tamura and middle-aged, eccentric Satoru Nakata, both who are inexorably drawn by fate to the city of Takamatsu. Kafa (under the direction of his inner advisor, Crow) runs from his father’s home, and his father’s curse, vowing to become “the world’s toughest 15-year-old”. Kafa soon finds himself working at a small private library in Takamatsu under the the affable, androgynous Oshima and the quiet, mysterious Miss Saeki. Nakata uses his ability to speak to cats to track down a missing kitten only to find himself challenged by the deranged Johnnie Walker. As these two narratives begin to draw together and intersect, the world begins to shift and twist in strange ways. The two protagonists search for the other half of themselves which they have left behind. This story bends the traditions and tropes of the “usual” story and freely juggles the intellectual and the sensual. The narrative progresses at a slow and deliberate pace, yet still sets the story with suspense. Kafka of the Shore is one of the pinnacle works of magical realism.

Subject Headings: Japan, magical realism, music, prophecy, spirituality, supernatural, art, poetry, Oedipus.

Appeal: surreal: complex, philosophical, relaxed pace, thought-provoking, contemplative, referential, imaginative, dual-narrative, well-crafted, densely written, deeply complex, mystical, mysterious, explicit, extremely vivid, haunting.

3 terms that best describe this book: surreal, intellectual, poetic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

A Long Rainy Season: Haiku and Tanka edited by Leza Lowitz, Miyuki Aoyama and Akemi Tomioka ([the book makes reference to tanka and related poetry])

Supernatural and Mysterious Japan: Spirits, Hauntings and Paranormal Phenomena by Catrien Ross

(Japan, ghosts, supernatural, hauntings)

The Eichmann Trial: Jewish Encounters by Deborah E. Lipstadt ([The Eichmann trial becomes a theme that haunts Kafka throughout his journey])

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood (magical realism, coming of age, surreal, deep, philosophical)

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles ([Referenced in the book] tragedy, curse, fate, love, death)

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights by Richard Burton (translated) ([This is one of the books that engrosses Kafka in the story])


August 1, 2011

Author:  C.J. Cherryh

Title:  Foreigner

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date:  1994

Number of Pages:  378

Geographical Setting:  an Earth-like planet in another solar system (mostly set in the city of Shejidan and the estate of Maiguri)

Time Period:  the future – unknown year

Series:  Book 1 in the Foreigner series

Plot Summary:  Centuries after the Phoenix starship brought humans to an unknown galaxy, to a planet populated by the atevi, the two races have found a way to co-exist separately but (somewhat) peacefully.  The humans keep to the island of Mospheira, except for one – known as the paidhi, the interpreter – who lives and works amongst the atevi as a diplomat and technology consultant.  Bren Cameron, the current paidhi, has spent his adult life immersed in the government of the atevi, sitting in the inner circle of the aiji, the lord of the central association.  One night, a would-be assassin makes an attempt at Bren’s life, and his reality is turned upside-down.  In a society where there is no atevi word for “trust,” but fourteen for “betrayal,” Bren must tread carefully to protect not only his own life, but the delicate relationship between humans and atevi.

Subject Headings:  space colonies; politics; human-alien encounters; culture conflict; loyalty

Appeal: detailed setting, engrossing, political, relaxed pace, builds in intensity, contemplative, thought-provoking, imaginative, world-building, well-crafted, densely written, complex

3 terms that best describe this book:  thought-provoking, world-building, builds in intensity

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

God’s Crucible: Islam and the making of Europe, 570 to 1215 by David L. Lewis:  Even though the humans and atevi did not live amongst each other, the exchange of technology and resources was central to the development of both societies.  Lewis examines that theme a little closer to home, focusing on the cultural interplay between Islamic and European culture.

 Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue by Eric Felten:  The most complex concept in atevi culture is that of man’chi – the atevi form of loyalty.  The term is so abstract that Bren is not able to come up with a concise translation.  In his book, Felton explores the role loyalty plays in life and what our loyalty-based decisions reveal using anecdotes from the Bible, literature, and other sources.

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana:  Before the accident that led them to the planet of the atevi, humans spent five centuries searching for a planet that could sustain life.  In Strange New Worlds, Jayawardhana explores the history of human curiosity and finding new planets, and also guides the reader through the numerous recent planetary discoveries, showing that a new Earth is possibly within our grasp.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Crossfire by Nancy Kress: A group of wealthy humans led by billionaire Jake Holman travel to the planet Greentrees to establish a new earth colony, only to realize that they landed in the middle of a war between two alien races.  Imaginative and thought provoking, Crossfire may appeal to those who enjoyed reading about Bren’s ethical dilemmas in Foreigner.

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin: Shevek, a naïve physicist and theorist attempts to share knowledge between two dissident planetary societies, igniting unprecedented change.  Like Foreigner, The Dispossessed is the first book in a thought-provoking series set in the distant future.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin:  In a kingdom of decades-long seasons, seven families plot and scheme to amass power and gain control of the throne.  Fans of the Foreigner series may enjoy Martin’s complex and well-crafted political fantasy saga.

Name:  Mieko Fujiura

Paradise by Toni Morrison

April 20, 2011

Paradise by Toni MorrisonAuthor: Toni Morrison

Title: Paradise

Genre: Literary Fiction / Mystery / Bestseller (Oprah’s Book Club)

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 318

Geographical Setting: Mostly rural Oklahoma

Time Period: 1940s – 1970s, with flashbacks

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: The legacy of an all-black town and the interwoven histories of its founding families dance around each other, while also playing into the murderous rage directed at a nearby “Convent,” where four women with painful pasts have chosen to remain separated from the rest of society. Suspense, mystery and magical realism all play their parts.

Subject Headings: Rural America – Oklahoma, African Americans, Slavery, Civil Rights, History

Appeal: Deliberate, densely written, atmospheric, chilling, darker, dramatic, emotionally-charged, haunting, menacing atmosphere, uneasy, unsettling, detailed, well-developed, complex, flashbacks, layered, historical details, rural, literary

3 terms that best describe this book: haunting, complex, unsettling

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – Race relations in America and the African-American experience.

Becoming Faulkner: the Art and Life of William Faulkner by Philip Weinstein – the subject of Toni Morrison’s Master’s Thesis and an oft-cited influence on her writing style.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson – true stories of African-American migration told with compelling detail.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdich – rural Western U.S, somewhat fractured storytelling, interwoven stories with dark pasts, human relationships, detailed and unsettling.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende – magical realism, lyrical prose, detailed and well-developed.

Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates – a haunting and disturbing tale driven by psychological suspense and the darker side of human nature.

Name: Genevieve Grove

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

April 5, 2011

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the class regency romance now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem.

Genre: Horror, Romance

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 319

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: 19th Century

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters are trained in the art of killing zombies – a skill that comes in handy as a mysterious plague continues to overrun England and wrench the dead from their graves.  Elizabeth is determined to beat the plague, but just like this novel’s predecessor, Ms. Bennett is soon distracted by the proud and handsome Mr. Darcy.

Subject Headings:

Austen, Jane – Parodies, imitations, etc.

Bennet, Elizabeth – Fiction

Darcy, Fitzwilliam – Fiction

Zombies – Fiction

Appeal: stately, densely-written, dramatic, romantic, sarcastic, sophisticated, eccentric characters, well-developed characters, sympathetic, action-oriented, violent, rural setting, vivid language

3 terms that best describe this book: Witty, Character-centered, leisurely-paced

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

  1. Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence.  This 2007 biography of Austen delves deeply into the author’s social, personal, and financial affairs which so closely informed her work.  Austen fans may find this biography a useful supplement to Austen’s own work.
  2. Moab is my washpot by Stephen Fry.  For readers who enjoy an English setting and reading about novelists this is a recommended read.  The author recounts his own coming of age story – a strong theme throughout Austen’s work – and how his own personal experiences affected his novels.
  3. Searching for Jane Austen by Emily Auerbach.  Auerbach gives Austen fans a readable portrait of the author.  She delves into Austen’s six published novels, her unpublished works, and modern pop culture references to give readers an in-depth look at who Jane Austen really was.  For literature fans, Auerbach also highlights Twain’s love/hate relationship with Austen.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. Guardians of Eternity by Alexandra Ivy.  Readers who enjoyed Elizabeth Bennet as a zombie slayer may enjoy Abby Barlow – a woman caught in the battle between good and evil.  Like Elizabeth Bennet, she too falls for an unlikely hero.  This book is the first in a series.
  2. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters and Jane Austen.  This is another Austen parody, perhaps second in popularity to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Readers who enjoyed Grahame-Smith’s take on Pride and Prejudice may also enjoy this novel – although it helps to read the original first.
  3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.  This book is part of Fforde’s Thursday Next series in which the series title character works to stop a criminal from kidnapping various literary characters – in this case Jane Eyre.

Name: Liz Humrickhouse