Posts Tagged ‘evocative’

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.

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Devil in a Blue Dress

October 17, 2012


Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Mosley, Walter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: 1948, Post WWII

Series: Easy Rawlins

Plot Summary: Set in Los Angeles in 1948, this gritty novel follows Ezekiel Rawlins who goes by Easy.  An African-American WWII veteran, Easy just wants to enjoy his life and hold onto the house he worked so hard to get but he has just lost his factory job.  Easy tries to forget his troubles at his friend Joppy’s bar when he is offered money by the mysterious, white gentleman DeWitt Albright.  All he has to do is track down French beauty Daphne Monet, a lady who is said to frequent black jazz clubs, and he will have enough money to pay this month’s mortgage.  But what starts out as a straightforward mission leads to increasing danger and threats to his life.  With bodies piling up and the police eager to pin the crimes on him, Easy must find Daphne and solve this mystery in order to stay alive.  Winner of the Shamus best P.I. novel award and the first in the Easy Rawlins series, this book introduces a complex and engaging protagonist who goes from reluctant to empowered private investigator while also dealing with racial tensions during the 1940’s Los Angeles.  Mystery lovers can enjoy this private investigator novel that looks at social issues while also delivering an atmospheric, evocative story that has the feel of a film noir.  They can also watch the movie version of this starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

Subject Headings: African-American Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Los Angeles, California, Private Investigators, Race Relations, Rawlins, Easy, African American Men, Organized Crime, Missing persons investigation, The Forties (20th century), Gangsters, Political Corruption

Appeal: Builds in intensity Pacing, Edgy, Character-driven, Suspenseful, Intriguing Characters, Well-drawn Characters, Gritty, Historical Details, Issue-oriented, Stark, Investigative, Thought-provoking, Strong Language, Time period dialect, Atmospheric, Evocative

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Gritty, Historical details, Investigative

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

Set against the racially tense backdrop of Memphis in 1968, this historical mystery follows the activities of African-American private investigator Smokey Dalton.  He finds out that he is the recipient of $10,000 through rich,white Chicago heiress Laura Hathaway’s mother’s will.  Laura wants to know why Smokey was named the beneficiary, as does Smokey.  This search for answers leads to danger and mysteries for Smokey.  Another historical mystery novel that features an engaging African-American private detective narrator, while also offering an atmospheric story that deals with racial issues.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

In this noir fiction set in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, the story follows three troubled LAPD officers Ed Exley, Bud White and Jack “Trashcan” Vincennes as they deal with crime, corruption and violence over a 10-year period.  Enjoy this mystery novel that deals with corruption and violence during a similar time period.  Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this was made into a movie.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In this classic noir novel, San Francisco detective Sam Spade must deal with his partner being killed in a stakeout, a valuable statue of a falcon being wanted, the appearance and disappearance of a mysterious redhead and enemies demanding a payoff that Sam does not have.  The stakes are high and Sam must figure out how to get out of this mess and get some answers.  Here is the go-to novel for a gritty, noir detective story.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein

If you want to delve a bit deeper into some of the racial issues explored in Devil in a Blue Dress, try this book that explores three American families whose self-identified race shifted from black to white over the years.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Delve even deeper into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles from the1920s through the 1960s.  It dives into the world of crime, corruption, and violence along with the racial tensions of the city.  This book is suggested for those who wanted more details regarding the historical setting presented in Devil in a Blue Dress.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia by Alan Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio

Did you enjoy the book as well as the movie?  Then try this encyclopedia that covers film noirs in detail.  It explores the themes and motifs of the genre, while featuring pictures and stills of the movies and their stars.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Memoirs of Geisha

September 26, 2012

Title: Memoirs of a Geisha

Author: Arthur, Golden

Publication Date: 1999

Time Period: Japan – 1920s to the 1940s.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 503

Plot Summary: Arthur Golden weaves a compelling story in this memoir about a poor girl Sayuri sold and taken to the big city and is forced into a  kind of  life she was totally unprepared for. She finds herself in the world of Geisha, and learns the Geisha trade where she eventually becomes one of the most desired Geisha in Japan. Told from a first person point of view, this book explores in detail the daily life of  the Geisha, various stages of the Geisha training, the competitions, and  rivalries among the Geisha and the ultimate sale of the Geisha’s virginity.  Though leisurely paced, the reader is taken  through twists and turns of the plot and is made to feel real sympathetic to the  strong willed and determined Sayuri – who decides to go by the wishes of her heart rather than the dictates of the society. You find  a lot of cultural elements and language that evokes  a strong sense of place that depicts the culture and tradition of the Japanese in a very realistic fashion..

Appeal Characteristics: Compelling; lyrical; richly detailed, leisurely paced, atmospheric; reflective, introspective, insightful, inspiring, detailed, homespun; Leisurely-Paced; Evocative, sympathetic, introspective – Japanese culture, single character development over time, explores interesting multiple  characters

Subject Headings: Geishas, Artisans, competition in women, Women entertainers,

Prostitution, Women friendship, Men/women relationships, Jealousy in women, First loves, 20th century

3 Best Appeal Terms: Leisurely paced, Compelling, Reflective

Similar Fiction: 

My Antonia by  Carter, Willa – Shares similar tone and plot  as Memoirs of a Geisha -The story of an orphaned girl who struggles from a young age…

Reflective, Homespun, Bittersweet, Narrative style –

The whistling season by Doig, Ivan – Set in the early 1900s, has a very strong sense of place, Moving, Reflective, Nostalgic, Descriptive, Atmospheric. Readers who loved these elements in Memoirs of a Geisha would also love this novel.

The commoner by Schwartz, John Burnham

Those who loved Memoirs of a Geisha will also love this because they both share similar themes –  Where one from a lowly beginning finds love and rises to top – a commoner marries into royalty. Novel set in Japan, evokes language and cultural elements.  Gives a good insight into the culture and tradition of the Japanese. Has similar narrative style, from first person point of view.

Similar Non-fiction:

Autobiography of a Geisha by Masuda, Sayo

Masuda recounts from a first person point of view life as a Geisha.  This book exposes both the glamour and the indignity surrounding “Geisha”. Readers of Memoirs of a Geisha would be enthralled.

Japanland: a year in search of wa by Muller, Karin

An american film maker travels to Japan to explore the customs and traditions of the people.  We get an insight into the life of geishas, samurai and other communities.  Readers who loved memoirs of a Geisha would thoroughly enjoy this true life account on what goes behind closed doors of these customs.

Women of the pleasure quarters: the secret history of the geisha by Downer, Leslie

This is a well researched  book that delves more into the history of the Geisha.  A fascinating read by anyone curious about how “Geisha” came to be.

By: Vera

 

Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

August 13, 2012

Author: Hadjii

Title: Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

Genre: African American Biography

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 219 p.

Geographical Setting: Georgia

Time Period: 1980s and 1990s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This fast-paced, character-driven, and humorous autobiography consists of stories from Hadjii’s childhood and teenage years.  Throughout the autobiography, Hadjii covers many interesting situations, like attending a predominantly white school, relating to his traditional parents, going to family parties, visiting church on Sundays, celebrating Christmas, drinking for the first time, taking a test for AIDS, and getting his first job.  In the author’s note, Hadjii admits that some parts of the autobiography are true while others are not although one consistent theme throughout many of the stories is Hadjii’s highlighting of the differences between people who are black and white.  In each chapter, Hadjii’s first-person language and voice are clear.  He is chatty and frank, and he uses this voice to plainly describe and comment on situations and characters from his early years.  Unlike many autobiographies, Hadjii’s story is not tragic or sentimental, but is sarcastic, critical, perceptive, and generally optimistic.  Nonetheless, even though the tone throughout the autobiography is generally light, Hadjii’s sharp observations often present deeper perspectives on issues, especially regarding being a black American growing up in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.

Subject Headings: African-American Families; African-American Young Men; African-Americans; Family and Relationships; The Eighties (20th Century); The Nineties (20th Century); Southern States – Social Life and Customs; Southern States – Race Relations; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing; Memoirs;

Appeal: fast-paced, candid, contemplative, edgy, exuberant, humorous, introspective, playful, thoughtful, upbeat, closely observed, detailed, eccentric, lifelike, recognizable, and vivid primary and secondary characters, character-centered, episodic, family-centered, issue-oriented, strong language, thought-provoking, evocative, small-town, accessible, chatty, colorful, concise, conversational, descriptive, direct, frank, informal

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: frank, funny, episodic

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who are looking for another character-driven reflection about family and relationships in a small town in Georgia.  Although Bailey White recounts these stories as an adult and does not include an African- American perspective as in Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, readers of Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White will appreciate her humorous episodic tales, closely observed and eccentric characters, and conversational dialogue throughout the novel.

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who desire another autobiography that highlights family, relationships, and race relations in the United States.  Even though the tone and style ofLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams is far more serious and formal thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, both autobiographies focus on how race affected their childhood and teenage years.  Another difference, however, is thatLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams takes place in Indiana in the 1960s unlike Hadjii’s upbringing in Georgia in the 1980s and 1990s.

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii because it too is a satiric memoir that humorously focuses on perceptions and stereotypes that people have about African Americans in the United States.  Similar toDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, Thurston tries to present a more nuanced and detailed impression of race relations and his background of growing up and living in America, and like Hadjii, Thurston deemphasizes the need for every black individual to represent his or her entire race.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about an African American, Betsey Brown, growing up in a middle-class family and dealing with race relations in the United States.  Although the novel is set in Missouri in the late 1950s, Betsey is dealing with many of the same family issues as Hadjii inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried MemoirAlthough Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange is more poetic and atmospheric thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii too, it also is episodic and frankly humorous in many sections and contains a compelling story.

Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about African-American families, friends, and neighbors in a small town.  Although the book is more sentimental in tone and takes place in Oklahoma, as inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii,Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper contains multiple stories told by humorous main characters in a witty and lyrical style.

The Thang That Ate My Grandaddy’s Dog by John Calvin Rainey will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another humorous novel about a young African-American boy, Johnny Woodside, growing up in a small town in Florida.  Like Hadjii, Johnny tells many stories about his adventures and the friends and family that he relates to on a regular basis as he learns many lessons about life.

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

August 1, 2012

Author: Pearl Cleage

Title: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Idlewild, Michigan

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  No

Plot Summary: After an event filled life in Atlanta, Ava Johnson finds that she is HIV positive. On her move to San Francisco, Ava decides to make a stopover in her childhood town of Idlewild, Michigan to visit her widowed sister Joyce Mitchell. Idlewild was once an idyllic lakeside getaway for African-American families in northern Michigan, but now resembles a rundown rural town crushed by the big city troubles of drugs, crime, abuse and teen pregnancies. Ever positive and upbeat, action oriented Joyce sweeps Ava along with her as they work to turn the fortunes of Idlewild around. The writing reflects an authentic and warm relationship between Ava and Joyce. Using humor and straightforward language, the characters are well-drawn and the events are realistic. Some profanity and sexual situations are part of the story, but also reflect the reality of the grim situations depicted. This is a disquieting yet hopeful account of how strong and positive relationships between friends and family can change things for the better.

Subject Headings: African American Women – Fiction, AIDS (Disease) – Patients – Michigan – Fiction, City and town life – Michigan – Fiction, Michigan – Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, measured pacing, dramatic, evocative, hopeful, humor, romantic, sobering, thoughtful, character-driven, flawed, issue-oriented, racy, strong language, contemporary, rural, accessible, conversational, profanity, candid

3 terms that best describe this book: Candid, character-driven, hopeful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Austin, Lynn N. A Woman’s Place; This is a character-driven issue-oriented story that revolves around the lives of four disparate women who work at the Seneca Shipyards in Michigan during WWII.Virginia, Helen, Rosa, and Jean form an enduring bond of support and encouragement during challenging times, just as Joyce and Ava do.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God; This character-driven narrative conveys the story of Janie Crawford, a young southern African American woman living in the 1930s. Her journey echoes the lives of Ava and Joyce who come to understand that life is best lived when time is taken to listen and learn from both the good and the bad choices people have made.

McMillan, Terry. The Interruption of Everything; Girlfriends and family come together to rally around Marilyn Grimes, a 44 year-old African-American mother of three college age children and one boring husband. This group of strong women encourage and support each other as they grapple with contemporary issues using humor and hope.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Apter, Terri. SisterKnot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What; This authoritative and insightful book explores the relationships between sisters and female friends reflecting much of the history and evolution that Ava and Joyce experience.

Millner, Denene. The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life; This book tackles issues facing  contemporary African-American women with humor and insight, not unlike the Statement of Purpose composed by Joyce and Ava that lists the 10 things every free woman should know.

Sherman, Charlotte Watson, (Ed). Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; A collection of 50 poems and short stories about African-American women written by notable African-American writers. The text explores, often in vivid detail and graphic language, many contemporary issues facing African-American women today echoing many of the issues faced by characters in What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.

Name: Patty Daniel

The End of Everything

July 31, 2012

Author:  Megan Abbott

Title:  The End of Everything

Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  246

Geographical Setting:  Midwest suburb

Time Period:  1980’s

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s best friend, Evie, disappears and Lizzie was the one to see her last.  Slowly Lizzie starts remembering key clues, like the suspicious car that turns out to belong to a local business man who is also missing.  It seems that Evie was kidnapped; but as Lizzie remembers more and more, it seems that maybe Evie has run away…Evie’s sister, Dusty, seems to be hiding something too.  Meanwhile, Lizzie spends more and more time with Evie’s dad, whom she has a crush on.

Subject Headings:  Teenage girls-fiction; Best friends-fiction; Missing persons-fiction.

Appeal:  Evocative, deliberate pace, character-driven, suspenseful, compelling, atmospheric, insightful, introspective, person point of view, atmospheric, creepy.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Evocative, moody, and suspenseful.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Preventing Sibling Rivalry: Six Strategies for Building a Jealousy-free home by Sybil Hart

A child psychologist has tips for parents of how to help siblings interact positively.

Memory, History, Forgetting by Paul Ricouer

The philosophy and history of personal memory and recollection.  Ricouer examines the reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects the perception of historical experience.  Refers to Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and other philosophers.

Finding Runaways and Missing Adults by Robert L. Snow

Published in 2012, this discusses the runaway problem in America. Snow reveals to readers the process the police use when trying to locate missing people, and information that readers can then use to locate their own missing loved ones. Uses real stories and first hand accounts,

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

A girl murders her best friend-turned-enemy on the English Island of Guernsey.  Her situation parallels her uncle, who has WWII secrets.  The story jumps back and forth from the present to the Nazi occupation.

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

Lauren and her brother were children when their mother was murdered and their father was convicted of murdering her.  Now in her adulthood, Lauren’s brother, who always said their dad was innocent, vanishes.

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Dr. Sheila Tao is a recovering sex addict, but after the death of her father she suffered a relapse and had a torrid affair with her teaching assistant/ student Ethan Wolfe, but decides to break it off because she is getting married.  but Ethan doesn’t handle the breakup well, and threatens to share a sex video of the couple together, which can ruin her career and her engagement.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

July 16, 2012

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 495

Geographical Setting: RuralMexico

Time Period: Late 19th Century

Series: Though not a series,there is a sequel – Queen of America, published in 2011

Plot Summary: Teresa Urrea is the illegitimate daughter of Don Tomás Urrea, a wealthy Mexican rancher, and a young Indian girl, Cayetana Chávez, known as The Hummingbird. Teresa is born in 1873 into desperate poverty and suffers abuse at the hands of her aunt, who raises Teresa after her mother abandons her. In spite of this, Teresa is a bright and engaging child. Teresa is rescued by Huila, the medicine woman, and learns the mystical ways of nature and healing. When Teresa is older, Don Tomás, defying contemporary conventions, takes her in and raises her as his own. A horrific event befalls Teresa when she is sixteen, miraculously transforming her into the Saint of Cabora, although Teresa dismisses the label. Pilgrims, hoping she will heal them, arrive at the ranch by the thousands, as do vagabonds, soldiers and revolutionaries. Insurrection is contemplated within the crowd and it is rumored that Teresa is fomenting revolution. Teresa and her father are arrested and sentenced to be shot as seditionists, though the sentence is later commuted to exile in the United States.This is a thoroughly researched, yet fictional account of a woman related to the author, known as the Saint of Cabora.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls – fiction; Woman healers – fiction; Illegitimate children – fiction; Near-death experiences – fiction; Mexico – History – 1867-1910 – fiction;

Appeal: Sweeping, atmospheric, authentic, measured pacing, engrossing,  gritty, humorous, evocative, mystical, detailed characterizations, strong characters, interwoven perspectives, accessible, thought-provoking, well-researched

3 terms that best describe this book: Expansive, dramatic, anddetailed in both characterization and setting

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Cookson, Catherine, The Glass Virgin. This is a character driven and dramatic coming-of-age story of a young girl who learns the truth and accepts the consequences of her true lineage in Edwardian England.

Le Guin, Ursula, Malafrena. This historical fiction title reflects an atmospheric and dramatic tale of a young man who becomes a revolutionary and forsakes his homeland.

Rice, Luanne, The Edge of Winter. This is a character-driven coming-of-age story about a mother and daughter facing the unforgiving realities as well as the beauty of life in a bird sanctuary in Rhode Island.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gilly, Adolfo,The Mexican Revolution. This book recounts the peasant revolts against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz and the inauguration of Álvaro Obregón in 1920.

Porterfield, Amanda, Healing in the History of Christianity. This title examines how healing is a central theme in the history of Christianity.

Shapiro, Marcy, Transforming the Nature of Health: A Holistic Vision of Healing That Honors Our Connection to the Earth, Others, and Ourselves. This title explores how our health is connected to love, meaning and respect between ourselves and nature.

Name: Patty Daniel

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.

Sin in the Second City

March 28, 2012


Author:  Karen Abbott

Title:  Sin in the Second City:  Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul

Genre:  Nonfiction, history

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  360

Geographical Setting:  Chicago

Time Period: 1900-1911

Series (If applicable):  n/a

Plot Summary:  Sin in the Second City details the rise and fall of Chicago’s most famous and well-respected brothel, the Everleigh Club.  Run by sisters Minna and Ada Everleigh, the club was the jewel of the south side Levee district, as the sisters strove to create an upscale business where only the best would do—the best customers, the best ladies, and the plushest décor.  The Everleigh Club boasted 50 rooms filled with perfume fountains, walls of mirrors, Oriental rugs, fine artwork, a library, and a gold leafed piano.  As the most prominent brothel of the vice district, the Everleigh Club was often the target for religious reformers and government agencies who were determined to stop white slavery—the kidnapping and selling of girls into a life of prostitution.  The reformers and the brothel owners clash for years, and this resulting story is candid, authoritative and will appeal to readers with an interest in Chicago history or in the “seedy underbelly” of American society.

Subject Headings:

Prostitution — Illinois — Chicago.

Brothels — Illinois — Chicago.

Everleigh Club.

Everleigh, Ada.

Everleigh, Minna.

Appeal:  leisurely-paced, candid, intriguing characters, layered, evocative, historical details, well-researched, straightforward, polished, atmospheric, eccentric characters, a few steamy scenes

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  historical details, eccentric characters, well-researched

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Devil in the White City—Erik Larson:  Both books are about the dark side of life in Chicago around the turn of the century.

The Outfit—Gus Russo:  Looks at corruption and crime within Chicago, without explicit violence.

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern—Joshua Zeitz:  Both books explore the existence of women who didn’t conform to society’s standards during the early part of the century.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Jungle—Upton Sinclair:  A classic book about the underbelly of Chicago society.

The Coast of Chicago—Stuart Dybek:  This collection of fictional stories provides glimpses into the lives of eccentric Chicago residents.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores—Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  Has a prostitution theme, but the protagonist is a customer, instead of a professional.

Name:  Amanda

The Bungalow

February 22, 2012

Author: Sarah Jio

Title: The Bungalow

Genre: Romantic suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Washington and Bora Bora

Time Period: World War II and present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A granddaughter’s discovery of old photos leads an elderly Anne Calloway to reminisce over the events of her life during and after World War II. Anne and Kitty are best friends heading in very different directions. Anne is newly engaged to the very respectable Gerard and Kitty has enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and is about to be sent to the South Pacific. Surprising her family and her fiancé, Anne decides to join her best friend, and the two set off to Bora Bora, where their lives change in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Kitty’s tumultuous romances and their results pull the friendship apart, and Anne finds herself drawn to a soldier named Westry. The two discover a small abandoned bungalow in the tropical forest, and it’s there that they fall in love, encounter a mystery about an artist and also witness a murder. As their time in Bora Bora draws to a close their future together is uncertain, and real life threatens to destroy their new love.

Subject Headings: * Older women — Fiction.
* Reminiscing in old age — Fiction.
* United States. — Army Nurse Corps — Fiction.
* World War, 1939-1945 — Fiction.
* Americans — French Polynesia — Fiction.
* Bora-Bora (French Polynesia) — Fiction.
* Life change events — Fiction.
* Washington (State) — Fiction.

Appeal: romantic, suspenseful, unpretentious, flawed characters, historical details, straightforward, exotic setting, evocative, emotionally charged, compelling, poignant, vivid

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: romantic, emotionally charged, historical details

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand—The same time period, and it focuses on one man’s compelling personal experiences during the war.

Gauguin Tahiti, George Shackleford—Guguin’s work plays a large part is the story of The Bungalow, and this exhibition catalog examines his years in Tahiti, his work and Polynesian society and culture, with high quality illustrations and examples of his work.
Aphrodite’s Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti, Anne Salmond—History of Tahiti, focusing on how European influence has shaped the island’s history.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Good German, Joseph Kanon—This is a historical mystery set during World War II, with a romantic storyline. It’s compelling and descriptive.
The Diplomat’s Wife, Pam Jenoff—This romantic suspense story involves lost love, is set during World War II and is thrilling and suspenseful.
The Lost Wife, Alyson Richmond—The storyline involves two lovers separated for decades due to Nazi invasion. While not particularly suspenseful, this book has a similar time period and romance storylines.
Name: Amanda