Posts Tagged ‘descriptive language’

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

April 11, 2012

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Genre: Historical fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 499

Geographical Setting: Mexico

Time Period: 1880s

Series: n/a, but story is continued in Queen of America.

Plot Summary: The Hummingbird’s Daughter is the historic story of Urrea’s great aunt. After researching his Aunt Teresita for twenty years, Urrea recreated the magical stories of the People’s struggle and his aunt that were passed down to him. Teresita is born into hardship, her young mother abandons Teresita early on and with no idea of who her father is Teresita is forced to move in with an abusive aunt. However the small-village life opens up new possibilities for Terestia as she makes friends with a healing woman named Huila. It is soon discovered that Teresita also inherited skills in healing. Urrea uses a strong sense of place and nature writing to give Teresita the power to heal with herbs and plants. As Teresita becomes a young woman, it becomes obvious to the People that her ability to heal is more than earthly and they deem her to be a Saint. Crowds gather as she heals and sends a message that the Mexican government sees as rebellious and threatening. Through poetic language and a witty undercurrent an inspiring story is woven through historic details creating a dramatic and thoughtful image of Saint Teresita.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls – fiction. Young women – fiction. Mexican Civil War – fiction. Nineteenth century – fiction. Women healers – fiction. Women saints – fiction. Ranchers – fiction. Family – fiction. Paternity – fiction. Near-death experience – fiction. Faith – fiction. Revolutions – fiction. Midwife – fiction.

Appeal: magical, compelling, well-developed characters, faithful characters, character-driven, thought-provoking, political, atmospheric, historical details, descriptive language, poetic, inspiring, witty, strong sense of place, strong sense of nature, relaxed pace.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: magical, poetic, well-developed characters

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard – A collection of writings about nature and spirituality, written with a poetic style.

Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow – Just as Huila taught Teresita the power of plants, you can learn too. 200 herbs, their descriptions, and their healing uses are explained in this book.

The Big Book of Women Saints by Sarah Gallick – It was her People that gave Teresita the title of being a Saint, we saw her own understanding of the situation, her inner desires, and her sense of purpose. Read about the lives of other Saintly women.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Sacred Ground by Barbara Wood – In this character-driven, moving, and compelling novel, a young female healer is cursed by another person in her village. The curse affects and radiates through her life and her family relationships.

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – Through Twain’s witty writing style, moving tone, with a strong sense of place, he explores the life of Joan of Arc in this historical fiction.

Malafrena by Ursula K. Le Guin – Like The Hummingbird’s Daughter, this is a historical fiction and a coming-of-age story combined, with a relaxed pace and an atmospheric tone the story of a man who leaves his town to join a revolution.

name: Jaymie

The Summer Tree

July 23, 2011

Author: Kay, Guy Gavriel

Title: The Summer Tree

Genre: High Fantasy

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 323

Geographical Setting: Mythical World of Fionavar

Time Period: Indeterminate

Series: The Fionavar Tapestry

Plot Summary: Five earthbound university students (Kimberly, Dave, Jennifer, Kevin, and Paul) are approached by the mysterious Loren Silvercloak, a mage from the realm of Fionavar, to accompany him on a short visit to his realm for an anniversary celebration for the High King of Brennin (two weeks in Fionavar equals a few hours on Earth).  However, this “short visit” turns out to be an epic quest for them all; they have gotten much more than they bargained for in a world full of dwarfs, ancient Gods, seers, exiled princes, and talking animals.  The relaxed pace of the story gradually builds in intensity, as a great evil, stirring in the depths of Mount Rangat, breaks its chains of imprisonment, seeking revenge on its enemies—the forces of good in Fionavar.  This intricately plotted, character-driven tale of self-discovery takes readers on a journey to another world, and is sure to please anyone looking to escape into the magical unknown.

Subject Headings: Fantasy stories, College students—Fiction, Time travel—Fiction, Wizards—Fiction, Fionavar (Imaginary Place)—Fiction, Arthurian legend, Coming of age stories, Stories of self-discovery, Quest stories

Appeal: Relaxed pace, atmospheric, magical, reflective, detailed characters, engaging, flawed characters, character-driven, intricately plotted, imaginative, mythic, detailed setting, timeless, descriptive language, lyrical

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, imaginative, intricately plotted

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Finding Merlin: The Truth Behind the Legend of the Great Arthurian Mage—Adam Ardrey (quest aspects, magicians, mystical beliefs)

Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends—Avram Davidson (fits well into the fantasy genre, covers the origins of mythical characters, imaginative subject matter)

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic—Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi ( a tool to discover other books of interest, contains a descriptive entry about Fionavar and its story, good way to immerse the reader in the landscape aspect of the genre)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Lord of the Rings (series)—J.R.R. Tolkien (elements of good versus evil, coming of age story, high fantasy)

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time series)—Robert Jordan (ordinary characters face extraordinary challenges, magical/mythical characters, quest adventures)

Lord of the Changing Winds (Griffin Mage Trilogy)—Rachel Neumeier (strong female character reminiscent of Kim Ford, relaxed pace, world-building, lyrical)

-Jessica Bartz



Maybe This Time

April 6, 2011 Crusie, Jennifer

Title: Maybe This Time

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Paranormal Romance

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 342

Geographical Setting: Ohio

Time Period: 1992

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Andie Miller can’t resist when her former husband offers her $10,000 to look after his two orphaned wards for one month.  How hard can it be to tutor the children and get them ready to move from their home?  Little does Andie know that ghosts bind the children to their haunted mansion, and those who tried to remove the children in the past met with mysterious deaths.

This family centered contemporary romance features well-developed, quirky, and engaging characters.  Andie is a strong and independent woman.  Her former husband, North, used to be a distant and unemotional workaholic.  He eventually realizes the power of romance as he tries to win back his first love.  Crusie’s use of witty dialogue, humor, and descriptive language move this fast-paced, suspenseful, sometimes playful—sometimes steamy romance to a satisfying conclusion.

Subject Headings: Divorced women, Ohio, ghosts, grief, haunted houses, paranormal, orphans, newfound families, second chance at love, séances

Appeal: humorous, fast-paced, upbeat with occasional dark moments, suspenseful, quirky characters, witty dialogue, steamy, detailed small town setting, resolved and happy ending, descriptive language, engaging characters, character-centered, ghostly, lighthearted, strong sense of place

3 terms that best describe this book: quirky, likable characters, ghostly plot

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gilbert, Elizabeth—Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia (humorous, strong sense of place, divorced women, engaging characters)

Roach, Mary—Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (ghosts, humorous, witty, séances, engaging)

Ryan, Trish—A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances (second chance at love, relationships, humorous, witty)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Blair, Annette—Sex and the Psychic Witch (racy, paranormal romance, humorous, lighthearted, upbeat, ghosts)

Evanovich, Janet—Smitten (divorced women, upbeat, character- driven, witty dialogue, humorous contemporary romance)

Showalter, Gena—Animal Instincts (funny, steamy, lighthearted contemporary romance, character-centered, divorced women)

Name: Debbie Siegel

Water for Elephants

May 24, 2010

Water for Elephants Book Cover

Author: Gruen, Sara

Title: Water for Elephants

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Geographical Setting: Small towns across the United States

Time Period: Alternates between the Depression and Present Day

Series: No

Plot Summary: Water for Elephants is the colorful and historically accurate story of life on the road for a community of circus employees/workers. Jacob Jankowski is 90 or 93 years old and resides in a nursing home. The circus has come to town and all of the fellow nursing home inhabitants are excited about attending. Unbeknownst to the other residents, at the age of 23 Jacob spent several years working as the veterinarian for The Benzini Bothers Circus. Flashing back and forth between the 1930s and the present day, Jacob narrates the story of his life in the circus and afterwards. On the verge of graduating from veterinary school, Jacob learns of his parent’s tragic death and despair causes him to walk out of his final exams. He jumps a train only to discover that he is in the midst of a traveling circus company. Hired by Uncle Al, the Benzini Brothers’ corrupt owner, Jacob discovers life in a traveling circus is far from glamorous. As the vet, Jacob is a member of the privileged circus staff, and finds himself involved in an awkward relationship with August, his boss, and August’s wife Marlena. Jacob and Marlena work to keep their desire at a distance and are successful at reigning in their desire until a catastrophic event occurs involving August, Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie, Jacob’s beloved circus elephant.

Subject Headings: Circus performers; Reminiscing in old age; Depressions – 1929-1941; Traffic accident victims; Human/animal relations; Parents – Death; Veterinarians; Men/women relations; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Women circus performers; Circus animals; Women horse trainers; Elephants; Human-animal communication; Manic-depressive men; Circus; Literary Fiction

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, gritty, nostalgic, romantic, dangerous, bittersweet, well-drawn characters, well-developed, first-person narrative, memorable and important secondary characters, authentic, storyline told through flashbacks, tragic, resolved ending, accurate, historical details, lush, descriptive language, detailed settings, circus life, engaging, nostalgic, vivid, emotionally-charged, exciting page-turner

Three Terms that best describe this book: Character-Centered, Romantic, Nostalgic

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Modoc: the true story of the greatest elephant that ever lived by Ralph Helfer is the story of a circus elephant and her dedicated comrade/trainer. (Circus, Circus animals, Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication)

Jumbo: the Greatest Elephant in the World by Paul Chambers is the real life tale of Jumbo the elephant and his devoted zookeeper Matthew Scott. Jumbo’s life is traced from Africa to Europe to the United States. His tragic death is preceded by a stint in P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication, Circus, Circus animals)

The Tarantula Whisperer: a Celebrity Vet Shares her Secrets to Communication with Animals by Laura Pasten; foreword by Stephanie Laland. This book is an educational and entertaining biography by a veterinarian who offers her tales about communicating with a variety of animals, including elephants. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication)

Night after night by Diana Starr Cooper with illustrations by Ivy Starr illustrates life in the Big Apple Circus. Cooper’s reflections focus on animals and performers as well as the shared way of life for both. (Circus, Circus performers, Circus animals)

Under the Big Top: a Season with the Circus by Bruce Feiler is the story of the author’s season with the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers troupe and provides an education in circus history. (Circus, Circus performers)

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot is the real-life story of a veterinarian and his relationships with his animal patients. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication, Veterinarians, Memoir)

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter is the story of Sophie, a circus aerialist and Jack, a young writer, who is captivated by her. (Historical fiction, romance, Women circus performers, Men/women relations)

The Aerialist by Richard Schmitt is a novel about the growing relationship of two friends, Gary and Dave, who join the circus as grounds workers. (Circus, Circus performers)

World of Wonders by Robertson Davies is the story of a magician who narrates his life story to coworkers on a film set. (Magicians, Coming of age, Narrative that moves from the present to the past, Reminiscing in old age)

Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is the story of a soldier who falls in love with his dead military comrade’s girlfriend. (Historical fiction, Romance, Men/women relations, Reminiscing in old age)

Name: Laona Fleischer