Posts Tagged ‘elegant’

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

Interview with the Vampire

August 1, 2012

Author: Anne Rice

Title:  Interview with the Vampire

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date: 1976

Number of Pages:  342

Geographical Setting:  New Orleans and various cities around the world

Time Period: 1790s-modern day

Series (If applicable):  The Vampire Chronicles #1

Plot Summary:

Through an interview with a mortal, the vampire Louis tells the story of both his mortal and immortal life.  Louis was a rich plantation owner in New Orleans in the late 18th century.  After his brother died, Louis became depressed and wanted to die, Lestat, a vampire, helps Louis by killing him and turning him into a vampire.  Louis and Lestat are then bonded together, despite the fact that Louis despises his maker.  Louis accidentally changes a young girl, Claudia, into a vampire and the two of them band together against Lestat, eventually fleeing to Europe to find other vampires.  Lestat, however, is not as keen to be rid of Louis.  Interview with the Vampire presents a well written and researched look at the vampire myth.

Subject Headings:  Horror—Fiction, Vampire—Fiction, American—Fiction, New Orleans, Europe

Appeal:  Measured Pace, Atmospheric, Chilling, Darker, Suspenseful, Character-Driven, Cinematic, Interview Setting, Historic Frame, Colorful, Descriptive, Elegant, Literary

3 terms that best describe this book:  Suspenseful, Character-Driven, Literary

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Companion by Katherine Ramsland

Written as a guide to the world of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series, this book helps gives new readers a better understanding of the characters and times.  The companion book also helps avid followers of the series keep characters and settings clear.  Readers who want to know more about Anne Rice’s novels should definitely check this book out.

The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton

For readers who want to know more about vampire culture in general, where it came from, how it evolved, etc., Melton’s book provides information on all things vampire.  The book is an A-Z bibliographic guide.

The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette

The New Orleans setting of Interview with the Vampire acts almost as a character throughout the story, because it constantly pulls at Louis, trying to bring him back home.  This book provides historical information about this fascinating American city.  Readers who want to know more about the city’s history will find ample information in this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Readers who enjoyed the overwhelming sense of dread and Interview with The Vampire unfolded will no doubt enjoy one of the most famous vampire books of all time.  Stoker’s story follows several storylines unfolding around the mysterious Count Dracula as he moves from Eastern Europe to England.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

A more modern day vampire story, Let the Right One In uses the same foreboding tone of Rice’s story, with a younger protagonist.  This book also delves into children being turned into vampires, like Claudia in Interview.

Dead until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

With the same Louisiana setting as Interview with the Vampire, but set in the present day, the Sookie Stackhouse series follows Sookie, a young woman who falls in love with a vampire, Bill Compton.  The series uses similar atmospheric, mystical tones to Interview in order to describe the location.

Name: Erin Sloan

Mortal Groove

November 16, 2011

Author: Ellen Hart

Title: The Mortal Groove: A Jane Lawless Mystery

Genre: GLBT mystery stories; Mystery stories

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 358

Geographical Setting: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Time Period: Current

Series: Jane Lawless Mysteries, Book 15

Plot Summary:    Jane Lawless is a Minnesota restaurateur who maintains very close relationships with her friends and her family.  In this book of the series, Jane’s father is running for governor, and family secrets, as well as the secrets of those involved in his campaign threaten the campaign’s success, as well as the personal well-being of many of the characters.  Many of the characters in this book have secrets, the least of which is their sexuality.  Jane and her sidekick Cordelia investigate the people working with her father after the assault of one of their friends. This takes them back to a murder around the time of the Vietnam war. Jane’s investigation results in the kidnapping of her brother and she takes it upon herself to try to save him.  In the meantime, Cordelia is trying to regain custody of her niece, and Jane’s brother is trying to save his marriage by searching for his wives’ baby, given up for adoption at birth.  This multi-layered story offers resolution of most story lines at the end of the book, while creating new issues, perhaps to be resolved in the next book.

Subject Headings:  Candidates for public office; Cold cases (Criminal investigation); Fathers; Lawless, Jane; Lesbians; Murder investigation; Restaurateurs; Secrets; Thorn, Cordelia; Women detectives

Appeal: memorable, suspenseful, fast-paced, entertaining, multi-layered, secretive, witty, strong secondary characters, family-centered, thoughtful, bittersweet, elegant

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: well-developed characters, subtle, engaging

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 Inseparable: Desire between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue

This book discusses the prescense and evolution of women in love in literature. This scholarly work delves into the portrayal of lesbians in classic  and contemporary literature as well as the prevalence of lesbians in crime fiction.

The Safe Sea of Women by Bonnie Zimmerman

This Lamanalysis of lesbian fiction and short stories between 1969-1989 discusses the portrayal of lesbians in fiction set against a historical background.  This book is for anyone who is unfamiliar with the genre (Amazon.com)

Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabel-Rouser by Rita Mae Brown

This conversational, engaging and witty autobiography of this mystery writer chronicles her  eccentric family as well as her love interests, and is written in a funny tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Report for Murder: A Lindsay Gordon Mysteryby Val McDermid

This is the first book in the series, featuring an amateur sleuth.  This character is the U.K.’s first lesbian detective (Amazon.com) and has a sidekick, also named Cordelia and a loyal following of friends and family.  While grittier than Mortal Groove, this book has its intricate plotting.

Lucky in the Corner by Carol Anshaw

This work of domestic fiction revolves around a mother and daughter, dealing with issues of the mother’s sexuality and the mother-daughter relationship. This book has strong secondary characters that are well-developed.  Even though, this book deals with social issues in more depth, it does so with wit and a sense of humor that is present in the Mortal Groove.

Blue Plate Special by Abagail Padgett

This book series, Blue McCarron mysteries, features the main character, Blue who is a social psychologist, who is hired by the police department to help solve a murder. This story follows Blue’s new relationship with her psychiatrist partner, Roxie, and includes a cast of funny, idiosyncratic characters (Novelist).  This also is a very suspenseful story with a series of red herrings, similar to the story in the Mortal Groove.

Name:Cheryl

The Water’s Edge by Karin Fossum

October 12, 2011

Author: Karin Fossum

Title: The Water’s Edge

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 227

Geographical Setting: Norway

Time Period: present

Series: 6th in the Inspector Sejer series

Plot Summary:  In Fossum’s haunting sixth novel featuring Inspector Sejer, Ris and Kristine Reihhardt are out for a quiet walk on a Sunday afternoon when they stumble on the body of a young boy left in a pile of leaves.  They also have happened to see a man with a limp walking out of the woods and to his car just minutes before.  Is this man with a white car and a distinct look the killer?  After finding the boy, the couple’s relationship is tested as Ris becomes more and more obsessed by the case while Kristine is disgusted by his morbid fascination.  As Inspector Sejer and his young partner, Jacob Skaar, begin interviewing townspeople, the stark beauty of Norway comes alive and the nature of the tight-knit community is revealed.  Before long, another young boy has gone missing, leaving the entire town edgy, terrified and suspicious of each other.  This time, however, the boy has some serious problems of his own in relation to his single mother that may complicate the case.  With haunting, poetic prose Fossum tells the dark, twisted story through the eyes of the Reinhardts, the killer, and the investigators as the chase down the elusive murderer. This novel is satisfying on many levels; first as an intriguing police procedural, second as a character-centered novel that gets into the minds of many characters, and lastly as a musing on human nature and the meaning of good and evil.

Subject Headings: crimes against children, grief, marriage, murder, murder investigation. Konrad Sejer

 

Appeal: chilling, haunting, atmospheric, character-centered, dark, elegant, compelling, engrossing, intense, bleak, contemplative, evocative, foreboding, psychological, suspenseful, sophisticated, multiple plots, investigative, start, rural, poetic, well crafted, police procedural

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: chilling, atmospheric, character-centered

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Staalesen, Gunnar, The Consorts of Death.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is a police procedural mystery that also takes place in Norway and features a young boy who is connected to a murder.

Holt, Anne, What is Mine.  This novel features a Norwegian police commissioner who leads a murder investigation of the murder of several young children.  Fans of Fossum will enjoy the characterization as the main characters attempt to get inside the minds of the criminals.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is an engrossing mystery with several plot twists.

Edwardson, Ake, Frozen Tracks.  Like The Water’s Edge, this is a haunting police procedural from a Scandinavian writer in which two crimes are connected.  Also like Fossum’s novel, this book features multiple plot lines, one of which gets inside the mind of the criminal.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Holt, Elizabeth, Living in Norway.  This picture book shoes the beautiful landscape of Norway and also talks about the history of the country and the unique character of the Norwegian people.  Fans of Norwegian writers may be interested in learning more about and seeing a visual representation of the setting and landscape that is so important to these mysteries.

Amy Hammel-Zaban, Conversations with a Pedophile, in the Interest of our Children. The Water’s Edge seeks to get in the mind of a pedophile to better understand the affliction and try to show the abuse that occurs early in life which often turns people into pedophiles.  It also features an important scene in which the detectives are interviewing a known pedophile who gives them some vital information.  This book would be helpful for those who wish to gain a better understanding of this affliction after reading this novel.  Like the novel, it also features a first person account of a pedophile.

Rangle, Larry, Crime Scene: From Fingerprinting to DNA Testing- An Astonishing Look at the Real World of CSIThe Water’s Edge features multiple scenes of crime scene investigation and the crime is also eventually solved using forensic evidence.  This book would be great for readers who are interested in learning more of the forensic aspect of the police procedural.

Name: Meghan Maleski

Pride of Baghdad

June 21, 2010

https://i0.wp.com/media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/443/98273-18253-106892-1-pride-of-baghdad_super.jpg

Author: Brian K. Vaughan;  Art by Niko Henrichon

Title: Pride of Baghdad

Genre: Graphic Novel (Adventure)

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 136

Geographical Setting: Baghdad, Iraq

Time Period: 2003

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

During a bombing raid in Iraq in 2003, four lions escape from the Baghdad Zoo after it is destroyed.  Now that their wish to be free has been granted, the pride must navigate the ruined streets of the city, searching for food and shelter, things that were previously taken for granted.  As they continue their journey, it becomes apparent that the real meaning of freedom is perhaps not as concrete as the lions once imagined.

In this graphic novel that was inspired by a true event, the voices of Brian K. Vaughan’s pride are enhanced by the art of Niko Henrichon.  Using primarily oranges and greens, Henrichon presents the streets of Baghdad as both a bombed out ruin and a wild jungle.  Throughout the city, the lions encounter a horse stampede, bombs and tanks, as well as an angry bear taking refuge in a once opulent mansion.

The personalities of the lions and other creatures are heightened by the art and their dialogue is matched by their expressions and mannerisms.  The backgrounds also add to the overall feel of the story, giving a dreamlike touch to the proceedings.  A two page spread of two lions gazing at the sunset from a building rooftop is both a breathtaking and surreal sight.

Subject Headings:

Lions; Animal liberation; Independence (Personal quality); Freedom; Captive wild animals; Iraq War, 2003; Survival; Iraq – History – 2003; Graphic novels; Comic books, strips, etc.

Appeal:

thoughtful, sorrowful, emotional, cerebral, turbulent, philosophical, ironic, provocative, intense, visceral, surreal, lush, visually stimulating, elegant, bittersweet

3 terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet; Profound; Powerful

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction

1)      Shooting War by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman

Anti-corporate blogger Jimmy Burns travels to Iraq to become a war correspondent who tell it like it is after he captures a terrorist bombing and posts it online.  He soon discovers that he may not be equipped to handle the realities of the situation in Iraq.

Similarities:  graphic novel, Iraq, influence of war, turbulent

2)      War Fix by Steve Olexa and David Axe

Journalist David Axe tells of his experiences in Iraq and the addiction of being in the thick of the battle in this pseudo-autobiographical story.

Similarities:  graphic novel, Iraq, influence of war, intense

3)      We3 by Grant Morrison

Animals used as experimental weapons escape their creators and have trouble adapting to their new found freedom.  Intense, thought-provoking and emotionally charged, this graphic novel also packs a punch visually, depicting the horrors committed by both the experimenters and the animals themselves, sometimes subtly and often graphically.

Similarities:  graphic novel, animals in peril, meaning of freedom, bittersweet

Non-Fiction

1)      A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

A tale of survival amidst chaos.

Similarities:  graphic novel, profound and powerful, depicts stories of the struggle for survival

2)      Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

The real life events that inspired Brian K. Vaughan to write Pride of Baghdad.

Similarities:  animals in peril, war in Iraq, influence of war

3)      From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth

Focuses on the suffering of ordinary Iraqis during the war and how one marine tried to save a stray dog named Lava by sending him to the United States.

Similarities:  animals in peril, influence of war, Iraq and Iraqi culture

Name: Valerie Kyriakopoulos

The Namesake

June 21, 2010


Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Title: The Namesake
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 2003
Number of Pages: 291
Geographical Setting: United States
Time Period: 20th Century
Series: No
Plot Summary: Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli arrive in Cambridge, Mass, from India, soon after their arranged marriage, and just as soon are expecting their first child. Upon his arrival, he is given the name Nikhil, but by family he is called Gogol, after the Russian writer whose stories Ashoke believes saved his life many years earlier. When Gogol starts school, his parents try to enforce that he be called Nikhil, but little Gogol refuses. This one early scene becomes emblematic of the struggle Gogol will face his whole life, as he tries to balance his Indian identity with an American boyhood and adolescence. Falling in love, attending school, managing adulthood and career and maintaining his relationship with his parents and sister are all dealt with in this vivid, intelligent book. Brilliant flashes into Indian culture are balanced with the introspection of Gogol’s very personal narrative. A brilliant read for anyone who appreciates stories focusing on details of other cultures, as well as anyone who appreciates the magical combination of vivid storytelling and moving, literary prose.
Subject Headings: India, Families, Parents, Immigrants, Coming of Age
Appeal: Densely written, bittersweet, realistic characters, strong secondary characters, character centered, details of Indian culture, literary, elegant, sophisticated, well-researched, literary references, introspective
Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Bittersweet, Literary, Details of Indian Culture
Similar Works:
Fiction:

Brick Lane, Monica Ali (Indian Culture, focuses on the effect of arranged marriage and the woman’s role in the Indian family)
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (prize winner, literary, Indian culture)
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (focuses on family relations in an immigrant family in America, reflective on other traditions)
Nonfiction:
The Girl from Foreign, Sadia Shepard (child searching for identity from how she was raised in America, dealing with Indian-American tensions)
Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama (dealing with a multicultural heritage, exploration of a family history)
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (pushing against parental expectation, coming of age)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

October 22, 2009

Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Genre: Best Seller

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 317

Geographical Location: Hertfordshire, Kent, Derbyshire, and London, England

Time Period: early 1800s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Jane Austen’s beloved classic has been overrun by “unmentionables.” The Bennet sisters have been trained from an early age in the deadly arts and are the main defenders of both their home of Longbourn and the surrounding neighborhood. At a ball they are introduced to Mr. Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy. These gentlemen have recently moved into the neighborhood after a zombie attack killed the previous tenants. There Jane Bennet begins to fall for Mr. Bingley, her sister Elizabeth is slighted by Mr. Darcy, and they still have time to display their superior fighting skills. The Bennet’s estate is entailed to a ridiculous and pompous clergyman Mr. Collins who, after being rejected by Elizabeth, marries her friend Charlotte who has been infected by the strange plague. Elizabeth goes to visit Charlotte and meets Mr. Darcy again. Mr. Darcy has fallen for Elizabeth and her zombie fighting prowess and proposes to her; she soundly rejects him in a spectacular fight scene. She meets Mr. Darcy later with her aunt and uncle, and she is surprised by both his excellent fighting skills and his pleasant manners. Elizabeth begins to see there is more to Darcy than meets the eye when an event happens that threatens to tear them apart forever. Will Darcy and Elizabeth resolve their differences, will Mr. Collins ever notice his wife is a zombie, and can the Bennet sisters single handedly stop the strange plague? Never fear Lady Catherine condescends to answer these questions and so much more!

Subject Headings: Bennet, Elizabeth (Fictitious character) — Fiction. Darcy, Fitzwilliam (Fictitious character) — Fiction. Zombies — Fiction. Young women — England — Fiction. Social classes — England — Fiction. Family — England — Fiction. Sisters — Fiction. Courtship — England — Fiction. Parodies. England — Fiction.

Appeal: eccentric and engaging characters, familiar characters, quirky, strong secondary characters, detailed, action-oriented, character-centered, domestic, violent, family-centered, plot twists, resolved ending, small-town, historical details, dangerous, darker, humorous, playful, sarcastic, romantic, accessible, classic, elegant, witty, parody

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: parody, engaging characters, humorous

Relevant Fiction Titles:

Jane Fairfax by Joan Aikens –This book is for fans of Austen’s work who are not interested in the violent aspects of P&P&Z, and instead crave the untold stories in Austen’s novels. In this case the story of Emma is told from the point of view of a secondary character.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks – For those readers, fearing a breakout, who are looking to brush up on their zombie fighting skills. A helpful outbreak journal is included for the recording of suspicious events by would be zombie fighters. A graphic novel version is also available for those who enjoyed the illustrations in P&P&Z.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding – A contemporary take on love that plays homage to Pride and Prejudice. For readers who enjoyed the humor and love story of the original.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Jane Austen: the World of her Novels by Deirdre LeFaye – A well respected Austen scholar looks at the culture of 19th century England. For readers who want to immerse themselves in the time period of the novel.

Zombies: a Field Guide to the Walking Dead by Bob Curran – This title explores the history of our fascination with the undead and is for readers who can’t get enough of the “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.”

Green Lane to Nowhere: the Life of an English Village by Byron Rogers – Looks at the history and society of life in the English countryside, for those readers looking for a Meryton of their own.

Name: Elizabeth

His Majesty’s Dragon

September 30, 2009

His Majesty’s Dragon

September 30, 2009 by Christine Edison

Author: Naomi Novik

Title: His Majesty’s Dragon

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 264

Geographical Setting: Great Britain

Time Period: 19th Century, Napoleonic Wars

Series: Temeraire

Plot summary: Captain Lawrence and his crew capture a French frigate carrying a precious cargo: a dragon’s egg. Before they can bring it to land, it hatches, and the dragon chooses to bond with Lawrence as his master. (Lawrence names him Temeraire after a British warship.) Lawrence must therefore leave the Navy and become an aviator, which ruffles the feathers of his admiral, his family, and the Royal Flying Corps – but he is a man of honor and soldiers through. Lawrence and Temeraire travel to Scotland for battle training and are eventually sent to Dover to defend the English Channel against French invaders. He also begins a casual romantic relationship with one of the female pilots in the Corps.

Appeal: densely written, engrossing, authentic, detailed characterizations, intriguing secondary (characters), well drawn, character-centered, complex, plot twists, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, detailed setting, details of seamanship and dragon air corps life, evocative, exotic, historical details, complex, elaborate, elegant, extravagant, flamboyant, ornate, polished, restrained, seemly, sophisticated, unusual.

Subject headings:

Novik, Naomi
Science Fiction – Alternative History

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Fiction / Fantasy / HistoricalFantasy – Epic
Dragons

Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815
Ship captains
Fantasy romance

3 terms that best describe the book: Historical details, evocative, sophisticated

Three relevant nonfiction authors and similar works:

Patrick O’Brian’s Navy by Richard Neill gives a vivid picture of what life was like for British sailors of different ranks serving on tall ships during the Napoleonic Wars. This compendium is a companion to the Aubrey-Maturin series listed below, which is based on a British Naval officer serving during this time period.

Historical Dictionary of the Napoleonic Era by George F. Nafziger is a review of political, military and popular historical figures, as well as artistic movements, cultural and theological events during the Napoleonic Era, 1789-1815. Novik refers to historical events at times in the Temeraire series, particularly in regards to Napoleon and what was happening elsewhere in Europe, and this book could help fill in gaps for readers eager to learn more about the period.

The Dragon in China and Japan by Marinus Willem de Visser explores numerous stories of dragons in Chinese and Japanese culture in this revised text with a new introduction by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. Temeraire the dragon’s background in China is discussed in His Majesty’s Dragon (with more to follow in the second book, Throne of Jade), and the dragon receives a book of stories about Asian dragons during the course of the story, which he asks Captain Lawrence to read to him again and again.

Three Fiction Titles:

The Hornblower saga by C.S. Forester, The Ramage series by Dudley Pope, and The Aubrey Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian are all well-known action-adventure series set on the high seas in British tall ships during the Napoleonic era. The Temeraire series features battle scenes as well as shipboard life scenes much like those seen in these books.

Persuasion by Jane Austen includes many discussions of the British Navy and shows the women’s side of life at this time. Naval officers are featured as characters, and there are discussions as to what a woman’s proper place is when he husband is to go to sea, a theme taken up in the Temeraire series, where women are part of the Air Corps.

The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey features humans riding fire-breathing dragons to burn away threads that would otherwise kill off all life on the planet of Pern. Scenes of humans tending their dragon charges and bonding with them are much like what happens in His Majesty’s Dragon.

Annotation By: Christine Edison

Tags: densely written, engrossing, detailed characterizations, intriguing secondary (characters), well drawn, character-centered, complex, plot twists, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, detailed setting, details of seamanship and dragon air corps life, evocative, exotic, historical details, complex, elaborate, elegant, extravagant, flamboyant, ornate, polished, restrained, seemly, sophisticated, unusual.

Posted in Fantasy

Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

June 24, 2009

Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

Author: Elva Trevino Hart

Title: Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 236

Geographical Setting: Texas, migrating to and from Minnesota

Time Period: 1950’s-

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Barefoot Heart is a vividly told autobiographical account of the life of a child growing up in a family of Mexican immigrants who worked as migrant workers to feed their six children. In 1953, when she was only three, her parents took the family from Texas to work in the fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin for the first time, only to find that in order to comply with the child labor law they had to leave the author and her 11-year-old sister to board in a local Catholic school, where they pined for the rest of the family. Hart remembers other years when the entire family participated in the backbreaking field labor, driven mercilessly by Apa (her father), who was determined to earn enough money to allow all his children to graduate from high school. Apa not only achieved his goal but was able to save $2000 so that Hart could enter college, a step that led to her earning a master’s degree in computer science.

Appeal: Fascinating, Triumphant, Proud, Struggle, Dignity, Beautiful, Picturesque, Driven, Elegant, Passionate, Heartfelt, Powerful, Extraordinary.

Subject Headings:

Hart, Elva Trevino

Mexican-American Women-Autobiography

Mexican-Americans-Biography

Mexican Americans—Social life and customs

Migrant farm workers

Migrant farm workers-Social conditions

Boarding School students-biography

Family relationships

Poor families

Minnesota

Texas

Autobiographies

3 terms that Best Describe the Book: Heartfelt, Powerful and Triumphant.

Three nonfiction titles:

Forged Under the Sun: the Life of Maria Elaena Lucas=Forjada Bajo el Sol by Maria Elena Lucas, edited and with an introduction by Fran Leeper Buss.

This is the oral history of a Chican farmworker. The story begins in Texas and follows Maria to Illinois. The narrative takes the reader through Maria’s struggles with poverty, and her involvement with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. This also is the struggle of a women and the struggles regarding  her family.

Salaam, Stanley Matters by Subrata Dasgupta.

Arriving in Britain from Calcutta, this book is a similar migration of a child to an unfamiliar destination and the family struggle of survival and triumphs.

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire

This novel compares to Hart’s memoir, this book tells the tale of Eire’s childhood, a survivor who describes his family’s conflicts and the impact of the Cuban Revolution on his family.

Three Fiction Titles:

Watercolor Women, Opaque Men by Ana Castillo.

This novel tells the story of migrant farm workers. Ella the main character moves to Chicago and raises her son by drawing on all her personal experiences, to be different from all the men around them.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez.

This story takes place in Vermont where a family of Migrant Mexican Workers. Mari, the oldest daughter of her migrant family, lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico.

The Mexican Chubasco by Roberto Haro.

This is the fictional story of the Mexican Revolution seen through the eyes of a wealthy landowner. Even as a fictional tale, this is a great way to gain a little historical insight to why many Mexicans have migrated to the United States looking for a better life.

Annotation By: Allison Robins

Empress of the Splendid Season

April 14, 2009

Title: Empress of the Splendid Season

Author: Hijuelos, Oscar

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 342

Genre: Latino/a

Geographical Setting: Cuba; New York City

Time Period: 1940s-1980s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Lydia España was the daughter of a mayor in a small town in Cuba who lived a life of privilege before Castro’s rise to power. Everything changes for the spoiled and pampered Lydia when she exiled from her homeland by her father for a sexual indiscretion that casts shame upon her family. Lydia immigrates to the United States and connects with other Cuban immigrants in New York’s Spanish Harlem. Lydia meets her husband Raul, a Cuban waiter, who nicknames her “Empress of the Splendid Season” because of her beauty and sophistication. In order to provide for her husband and their two children, Rico and Alicia, Lydia works as a cleaning woman for upper class New Yorkers much better off than herself. Lydia struggles to maintain her Cuban upbringing and recapture the life she was forced to abandon in Cuba, but is met with challenges, which make that dream nearly impossible. Through it all, Lydia never loses her dignity or her dream of a life as the “Empress of the Splendid Season.”

Subject Headings: Cuban-American women – New York City; Cuban-Americans – New York City; Cuban-American domestic workers – New York City; Women immigrants – New York City; Cuban immigrants – New York City; New York City; Cuban-American fiction – 20th century

Appeal: leisurely paced, measured, unhurried, detailed, introspective, like life, realistic, vivid, well developed, well drawn, character centered, family centered, intergenerational, inspirational, vibrant, though-provoking, bittersweet, sensual, detailed setting, melodramatic, episodic, nostalgic, cinematic, candid, elegant, frank, polished, cinematic, thoughtful

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Dubus, Andre – House of Sand and Fog (immigrant experience, melodramatic, nostalgic, tragic, realistic, cinematic) Kim, Nancy – Chinhominey’s Secret (intergenerational, immigrant experience, complex relationships, insightful) Perez, Loida Martiza – Geographies of Home (intergenerational; immigrant experience, complex family relationships, haunting, inspirational, character-centered)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Diaz, GuarioneThe Cuban American Experience: Issues, Perceptions, and Realities (comprehensive analysis of Cuban Americans in the United States) James, Ian Michael – Ninety Miles: Cuban Journeys in the Age of Castro (stories of three Cuban immigrants and their individual reasons for leaving Cuba for the United States) Carlson, Lori Marie and Hijuelos, Oscar (editors) Burnt Sugar (Caña Quemada) Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish (collection of poems about love and longing for Cuba written by Cubans living in Cuba and abroad)

Name: Joanna