Posts Tagged ‘familiar’

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

Drinking at the Movies

April 18, 2012

Author: Julia Wertz

Title: Drinking at the Movies

Genre: Adult Graphic Novel, Biography

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 187

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Spring 2007 – New Year’s Eve 2008

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Julia Wertz is a twenty-four year old comic-book artist. Bored with San Francisco she finds herself making a bold decision by moving to New York. Using illustrations and journal-like writing, Drinking at the Movies is chronicle of Julia’s coming-of-age in New York. In an informal and friendly tone, Julia shares the story of moving away from home, trying to hold on to low-paying jobs, and living in four different apartments. She acknowledges and illustrates the more serious parts of her life, like her brother’s drug addiction, family illnesses, and her own drinking problem with humor. Julia’s introspective look at her behavior and her youthful rebellious approach to life and search for identity make this graphic novel an amusing and quick read.

Subject Headings: New York, Cartoonist, Identity, Coming-of-Age,

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, well-drawn, familiar, quirky characters, accessible, simple drawings, unpretentious, contemporary, do-it-yourself, linear story, attention to detail, informal, introspective, character-driven, first-person point of view, playful, artistic.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: humorous, fast-paced, simple drawings.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Life in a Jugular Vein by Ben Snakepit – Ben Snakepit writes autobiographical, humorous comic-strip style graphic novels. He records every day of his life in three frames, and gives each strip the a song of the day. Ben writes and draws about the monotony of his job, going on tour, trying to be a grown-up, punk rock, and drugs and alcohol. His characters are realistic and the language is accessible and simple.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince – Liz Prince writes an autobiographical graphic novel in a comic book style. She uses humor and illustrations to document her own coming-of-age and the relationship she is in.

Zinester’s Guide to NYC by Ayun Halliday – A zinester’s guide to New York City explores the area where Julia lived in and worked in. Similar to Julia’s Do-It-Yourself style, Zinester’s Guide to NYC is the work of over twenty people that have contributed to pages like “Pizza!” to give the reader an in-depth, real-life look at the city.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gingerbread Girl by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin – A coming of age story set in a city, Annah a twenty-somethings female in a big city is depicted in graphic novel format. Her friends, ex-boyfriends, and animals help to narrate her story for her in a witty attempt to find Annah’s identity.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – This humorous fiction graphic novel is a coming of age story about a man in his 20s. His girlfriend left him for New York, and he is left in Berkeley searching for his identity.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser – A linear story told with inserts of illustrated zines and letters, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing features a young man’s coming of age story. Fast-paced and humorous, the main character (Elliot) searches for meaning and his own identity in a punk house in D.C.

name: Jaymie

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.

The Next Always

April 4, 2012

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Boonsboro, Maryland

Time Period: Present

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

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

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

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Ally C.

Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye

March 21, 2012

Author: Victoria Laurie

Title: Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Detroit, Michigan

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Abby Cooper, a woman with amazing psychic and intuitive abilities, finds herself in the middle of a police investigation after one of her clients is murdered. Abby has a deep dislike of law enforcement after a fellow psychic was arrested years ago, and finding herself forced to work with the handsome officer Dutch proves to be nearly as hard of a challenge as catching the killer. Abby realizes she must use her talent and wit to find the killer before he finds her, no matter her personal feelings for the officer at her side.

Subject Headings:

Paranormal phenomena
Murder investigation
Women psychics

Appeal: Witty, richly detailed, conversational, fast-paced, upbeat, familiar, realistic, series characters, sympathetic, gentle, contemporary, urban, simple, unembellished,

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: conversational, richly-detailed, realistic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Psychic: My Life in Two Worlds by Sylvia Browne

One of the leading psychics in the world, Sylvia Browne discusses her journey to realizing her potential as a psychic and balancing her life in our world with that of the dead.

Discover Your Psychic Type: Developing and Using Your Natural Intuition by Sherrie Dillard

This is the go-to handbook for anyone who wishes to learn more not only about the types of intuition but also to find out what type of psychic you are and how to hone your talents.

History in Blue: 160 Years of Women Police, Sheriffs, Detectives and State Troopers by Allan T. Duffin.

This book discusses the history of women in the police force and how they broke down the  gender barrier in order to do the work they loved. Includes dozens of interviews with women of all ages and types of police work describing how they made their way up through the force.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Trouble with Magic (Bewitching Series #1) by Madelyn Alt

Cozy mystery/romance series concerning a 30 year old woman who must partner with her friends’ Wicca group in order to solve a mystery and clear their friend of murder charges. Fast-paced, conversational, witty and the first book of series.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti is literally a woman without a soul and finds herself stuck in a whirlwind of paranormal occurrences after she accidentally kills a vampire. Fast-paced, witty, intelligent,  literary and romantic.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The series that brought paranormal mystery/romance to the forefront. Sookie is a small-town mind reader whose life turns upside down when she meets Bill Compton, the new vampire in town. Fast-paced, imaginative, upbeat, contemporary and conversational.

Name: Courtney Rose

Appaloosa

February 15, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker

Title: Appaloosa

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: “untamed territories of the West”

Time Period: 1800s

Series (If applicable): 1st of the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch Series

Plot Summary: Renegade rancher Randall Bragg and his men have been living off the citizens of the small Western mining town of Appaloosa “like coyotes live off a buffalo carcass.” After Bragg kills the last marshal and deputy, Appaloosa’s aldermen hire town tamers Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to restore order in the town. Things seem OK after Bragg’s trial, but some twists, turns, and deception threaten the peace Cole and Hitch have brought to Appaloosa.

Subject Headings: Deputy marshals; Wanderers and wandering; Honor in Men; Ranchers Men – Friendship; Fugitives; Escaped convicts; Gunfighters; Outlaws; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Manipulation by women; Men/women relations; Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett

Appeal: Fast-paced, Atmospheric, Strong sense of place, Gritty, Hard-edged, Well-drawn characters, Familiar, Cinematic, plot-centered, Details of old West, Spare, Homespun,Witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced; Atmospheric; Gritty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Wallis, Michael. Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. “Both the facts and the legend pick up in 1877, when Henry—already known to some under the alias Kid—shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis’s reconstruction of the Kid’s exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis (Route 66 ) shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of ‘desperate men’ who knew how to handle a gun. Wallis, the host of PBS’s new American Roads , writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase (“the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves”). The writing style of Billy the Kid may appeal to reader’s who enjoyed Appaloosa‘s spare but witty dialogue.

Guinn, Jeff.  The Last Gunfight: the real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral—and how it changed the America West. “Describing the many social, political and other forces that set the stage for the gunfight (including new edicts regarding arrests and carrying guns), Guinn details the historic events of the cold afternoon of Oct. 26, 1881: drunken outlaw Ike Clanton’s wild threats against Wyatt Earp and Holliday; Virgil’s attempt (together with his brothers and Doc) to disarm Ike and his cowboy buddies; and the 30-second exchange of gunfire that left three cowboys dead. Just the facts—and still a great story” (Kirkus).  Like Appaloosa, The Last Gunfight is a fast-paced and compelling read that looks at lawmen who make laws and decisions that may straddle the line between right and wrong.

Tefertiller, Casey. Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.  “Using a wide variety of primary sources, Tefertiller manages to summon up a human, complex figure and, while not omitting flaws, to persuasively demonstrate that Earp believed in the law and did his best in hard times to defend it. A great adventure story, and solid history” (Kirkus). Though fictional, Cole and Hitch also believe in and do their best to uphold the law, though all three are flawed characters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Estelemen, Loren – Aces and Eights is the “dramatic account of the death of gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok and the trial of Jack McCall, the man hanged for the murder of Deadwood’s legendary marshal” (NoveList). Like Appaloosa, Aces and Eights is a fast-paced, atmospheric Western that revolves around a murdered marshal.

Leonard, Elmore.  Hombre features “John Russell, a young man nicknamed Hombre by the Apaches who raised him, has a deadly confrontation with a determined gang of stagecoach robbers” (book description).  Leonard and Parker both write Mysteries and fast-paced, atmospheric and gritty Westerns with a darker mood.

Kelton, Elmer – Texas Standoff: a novel of the Texas Rangers. “Newly married Texas Ranger Andy Pickard and his new partner, Logan Daggett, investigate a series of murders and cattle thefts in central Texas, a task complicated by a gang of masked vigilantes and the appearance of a notorious gunman” (NoveList). Both Appaloosa and Texas Standoff are fast-paced and atmospheric with a strong sense of place that center around two lawmen partners.

Ally C.

American Gods

February 11, 2012

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title: American Gods

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: 

Shadow, before being released from prison, finds out that his wife has been killed. On his way home, he is confronted by a man known as Mr. Wednesday, who seems to know a lot about Shadow and offers him a job as a bodyguard. Shadow’s acceptance of this offer takes him on a dangerous journey. Shadow is used for many strange tasks and he encounters things he never knew existed as well as various gods living in America. This novel follows the story of Shadow but at the end of each chapter, a little story about a certain god living in America can be found. Shadow, a gritty man, takes the reader on an adventure full of suspense and haunting images.

Subject Headings: National characteristics, American Fiction; Spiritual warfare Fiction; Ex-convicts Fiction; Bodyguards Fiction; Widowers Fiction; Fantasy fiction.

Appeal: Fast-paced, character-driven, intricately plotted, darkly humorous, dramatic, romantic, haunting, gritty, thought-provoking, suspenseful, macabre, witty, adventurous, compassionate, familiar, and well-developed.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Darkly humorous, macabre, and haunting.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: Erikson, Steven – Crippled God (A mortal woman challenging the gods); Parker, T. Jefferson – Storm Runners (Taking place in California, an ex-cop loses his whole family from a bomb explosion and takes on a job as a bodyguard); Harrison, Kim – Pale Demon (A bounty hunter goes on a cross-country drive across America with supernatural companions to clear her name).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: Azzarello, Brian – Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime) (A hired bodyguard who ends up committing murder for his boss); Henderson, Jeff – Cooked: from the streets to the stove, from cocaine to foie gras (Story of an ex-convict who becomes an executive chef); Bailey, John – Gods and men: myths and legends from the world’s religion (Mythical Gods).

Name: Jun Yoon

Blankets

November 30, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

June 21, 2010

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Author: Haruki Murakami

Title: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: a memoir

Genre: Best Sellers / Audiobook

Publication Date: 2008

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc

Format: MP3 Audiobook

Number of Pages: 192

Geographical Setting:  Japan / Hawaii / East coast / U.S.

Time Period: 2005-2006

Series (N/A)

Plot Summary:

In this audio book, read by Ray Porter, Murakami reflects back on pivotal points in his life and career during a five-month preparation for the New York City Marathon. We are taken from Hawaii to Cambridge to Japan and back to the East Coast of the United States, while running and exercise are kept as the backdrop to all places. We are let in on the lesser-known aspects of Murakami’s life: such as his days owning and running a Tokyo jazz club in the 80’s where the late hours and the smoking allowed him to write his first book but eventually started taking away his energy to maintain a vital creative life. Running six days a week for over two decades is the focus and story of the book and are also what enables him to maintain both his creative and physical energy, which for Murakami go hand in hand. This is evident when he states that running enables him to keep going when “the points where my body surpasses the balance between imaginative power and physical abilities that sustain it have crumbled.” It is through the repeated practice of writing and running that he reflects and understands what kind of life he has lead and where to place his personal standard while maintaining balance.

Subject Headings:

Sports and Competition—Racing—Track and Field

Biography and Autobiography—Autobiography—Writers

Adult books for young adults

Murakami, Huruki, 1949—

New York City Marathon

Authors, Japanese—21st century—Biography

Marathon runners—Biography

Marathon Running

Distance running—Training

Japan—Social life and customs—21st century

Autobiographies (Adult literature)

Sports literature

Appeal:

Relaxed, easy, candid, earnest, thoughtful, detailed, introspective, familiar, episodic, inspirational, accessible, simple, unembellished

3 Terms that best describe the book:

Earnest, thoughtful, inspirational

Similar Authors and Works:

(Fiction)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver — Not only does Murakami give a shout out to Carver for using his title, but the characters in this collection are straightforward and honest; admitting past mistakes and trying to overcome them.

Once a Runner: a novel by John L. Parker — Distance runner Quenton Cassidy is suspended from the track team for his involvement in an athlete protest and risks his future prospects to train on a monastic retreat with an Olympic medalist. (Novelist)

Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe – This book describes a man’s constant fighting the onslaught of the never-ending sands that fall down upon him as he lives in a the bottom of a sandpit. The self-acceptance and resignation to his place and nature remind me of many aspects in Murakami’s memoir.

(Non-Fiction)

No Shortcuts to the Top: climbing the world’s 14 highest peaks by Ed Viesturs– A veteran mountaineer recalls some of his most harrowing and dangerous climbs as he pursues the goal of reaching the summit of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, detailing his dedication to the philosophy that “getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory” while discussing some of his own close calls, rescues, and errors in judgment on the part of fellow climbers. (Novelists)

Born to Run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen by Christopher McDougall McDougall reveals the secrets of the world’s greatest distance runners–the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico–and how he trained for the challenge of a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of super-athletic Americans. (Novelist)

Strides: running through history with an unlikely athletes by Benjamin Cheever — In a deeply personal history of running, the author traces the evolution of the sport from the ancient world to the present day while reflecting on his personal, decades-long devotion to, and experiences of, the sport. (Novelist)

Sag Harbor

April 21, 2010

Author: Colson Whitehead

Title: Sag Harbor

Genre: African-American

Publication Date:2009

Number of Pages 288:

Geographical Setting: Sag Harbor, New York

Time Period:1985

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: In the summer of 1985 fifteen year old Benji Cooper and his brother return to the traditional vacation spot for middle class African Americans in New York City, Sag Harbor. This time they get to spend the summer living on their own with their parents visiting only on weekends. The book follows Benji through his summer job, attempts to gain the attention of girls and lots of time hanging out at the beach with his friends. Whitehead provides a detailed view of racial and class divisions against the backdrop of a nostalgic coming of age novel.

Subject Headings:African American, adolescence, 1980’s

Appeal: Closely observed, detailed, evocative, familiar, lifelike, recognizable, character-centered, episodic, family-centered, linear, detailed setting, small-town, humorous, intimate, lighthearted, nostalgic, unpretentious

3 terms that best describe this book: Nostalgic, Engaging, Recognizable

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons by Steven Gaines

In contrast to the much more down to Earth town of Sag Harbor, this book looks at the nearby towns known as the Hamptons and their super-rich inhabitants.

Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century (Historical Studies of Urban America) by Andrew Weiss. Explores the phenomenon of African American middle and upper classes moving outward from cities creating uniquely black suburbs.

We beat the street: how a friendship pact helped us succeed by The Three Doctors. A story of three African American teen boys who use their strong friendship to propel themselves out of a troubled neighborhood and though college.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Caucasia by Danzy Senna. Set in the 1970’s a young girl with a Caucasian mother and African-American father is abandoned by her father and is forced to move with her mother to find a new home. Similar to Sag Harbor in its exploration of racial identity and how a children can be placed between

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. Like Sag Harbor this book is set in the New York City of the 1980’s and explores racial and class differences among young adults.

The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty. In this coming of age novel author Beatty explores the nature of racial identity. A young African-American boy is forced to adjust as he moves from the predominantly white suburb where he spends his childhood to a town filled with minorities (blacks/Asians/Latinos).

Name:Kris Harrison