Posts Tagged ‘flashbacks’

The Kingdom of Childhood

August 1, 2012

Kingdomofchildhood Author: Rebecca Coleman

Title: The Kingdom of Childhood

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: Sep 2011

Number of Pages: 338

Geographical Setting: A new-age community in Maryland

Time Period: 1998

Plot Summary: Judy is a teacher at a small private school. At forty-three, her marriage is falling apart and she begins an affair with a sexually-frustrated 16 year-old student, Zach. When Judy starts to get demanding and possessive, Zach wants out of the relationship, but Judy keeps pressuring him. Flashbacks to Judy’s childhood reveal a lonely, unstable home-life; and then questions arise as to what really happened to Judy’s ex-boyfriend who died in an accident. Meanwhile, Judy wishes her husband dead.

Subject Headings: Teachers-fiction; Students-fiction; Love stories; sex crimes.

Appeal: Thought-provoking, issue-oriented, suspenseful, compelling, earthy, builds in intensity, emotionally-charged, flashbacks, controversial, sexually explicit, dark mood, flawed characters.

3 terms that best describe this book: Issue-oriented, flawed characters, builds in intensity.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Thirteen Days That Tarnished American Journalism by Marvin L. Kalb.
Veteran journalist gives an insider’s look to the many factors that went into revealing the scandal. This news item was the backdrop for Kingdom of Childhood.

If Loving You is Wrong by Gregg Olsen
This is about the Mary Kay Letourneau affair, which was a highly publicized teacher/student scandal in the late 90’s but is not mentioned in KOC.
Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work by Gary Latchman
Steiner’s education philosophy is the foundation for the Waldorf schools which is the type of school in KOC.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
This novel deals with the same issue of a female teacher and male student affair, but this is told by another teacher at the school who is a friend. It also builds in intensity.

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
A former teacher is just released from prison after being wrongly convicted of statuatory rape. Then new false allegations threaten him in his new town. Suspenseful and issue-oriented.

The Adults by Alison Espach
This 2011 release centers on a teenage girl, Emily, who has a love affair with a young male teacher. It is lighter in tone than Kingdom of Childhood and is more romantic and poignant in parts, but is also wickedly funny and witty. It follows Emily into her twenties when she reunites with the teacher-lover.
Name: Sonia Reppe

Murder in the Sentier

July 30, 2012

Author: Cara Black

Title: Murder in the Sentier

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 325

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1994

Series (If applicable): Aimee Leduc Investigations (3)

Plot Summary:

Book three in the Aimee Leduc series begins with a recently released prisoner contacting Aimee claiming to have information on her long lost mother.   When her informant winds up dead Aimee finds herself investigating two recent murders alongside burglaries and a kidnapping committed by a radical group in the 1970s.  Tech savvy Aimee also needs to keep up with her day job at Leduc Investigations.  A full cast of quirky characters, including an albino fashion designer, her business partner Renee, government rebels, and a handsome financial advisor, make for an intriguing story that always has something going on. Told from a couple different viewpoints Black’s work has well crafted, yet flawed characters.  With two mysteries converging together, and a vivid description of Paris (and not always the pretty side of Paris), this novel is compelling and suspenseful.

Subject Headings:

Computers, Families of missing persons, Leduc, Aimee, Murder, Murder investigation, Terrorists, Women Detectives

Appeal:

Character-driven, strong sense of place, suspenseful, compelling, flawed characters, engrossing, atmospheric, bittersweet, intriguing characters, series characters, quirky characters, action-oriented, flashbacks, investigative, detailed setting, straightforward language

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place, action-oriented, intriguing characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century by Tony Judt

Through the lives of three of France’s well known intellectuals of the 20th century, this work discusses politics and moral responsibility.  For those may want to know more about the political motivations behind the radicals featured in Black’s work.

Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey

This book provides a look at Paris’s history, through the lives of Parisians.  This work looks at the well known and beautiful as well as the underworld and gritty.  This work allows readers to see more of Paris than the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and takes the reader to places like the Sentier.

Metro Stop Paris: An Underground History of the City of Light by Gregor Dallas

The history of Paris told through twelve metro stops, allowing reader to see a more well rounded version of Paris through vignettes. Like Black’s work it does not always focus on the romanticized version of Paris.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Part of the Thomas Lynley mystery series this book features detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.  Havers, known for her abrasive personality, is partnered with Lynley, who she doesn’t particularly care for, on an investigation involving the murder of a man by his daughter.  This work, set in England, has a strong sense of place and features of woman investigator.

In the Woods by Tana French

The first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series features detective Rob Ryan.  Ryan is investigating a murder that is eerily similar to one he witnessed as a child.  A compelling mystery with a strong sense of place, it also features an investigator who, like Aimee Leduc, is looking into a mystery involving his own past.

Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti

The first book in the Inspector Daquin series involves the investigation into the death of a Thai girl, at a Parisian fashion workshop.  An action packed gritty mystery, with a strong sense of place in Paris, mainly the Sentier.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The Last Templar

April 18, 2012

Author:  Raymond Khoury

Title:  The Last Templar

Genre:  Thriller, Adventure

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  523

Geographical Setting:  United States, Turkey, Greece, Palestine

Time Period:  13th Century, Contemporary

Series:  Sean Reilly Thrillers

Plot Summary:  After witnessing the theft of valuable artifacts on loan from the Vatican, archeologist Tess Chaykin joins with FBI agent Sean Reilly to help track down the thieves and recover the artifacts.  Discovering that one of the artifacts leads to the famed hidden treasure of the Knights Templar, Tess and Sean engage in an adventure -filled treasure hunt across the Mediterranean. The treasure they discover is not what they expect; instead, it is a powerful secret that can change the face of Christianity.  This fast-paced, suspenseful thriller with loads of action will take the reader on an historical adventure that spans eight hundred years.

Subject Headings:  Knights Templar, The Crusades, Archeology, The Vatican, Catholic Church, Christianity, Conspiracies, Cryptography, Treasure Hunting, Women Archeologists

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, dramatic, flashbacks, cinematic, investigative, multiple points of view, multiple plot lines, action-oriented, thought-provoking, historical details, details of The Knights Templar

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, dramatic, fast-paced

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Crusades:  The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land:  by Thomas S. Asbridge-    The Crusades tells the story of the Holy Wars from both the Muslim and Christian perspective.  The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land will appeal to readers interested in the battles of the Templars in The Last Templar.

Discovery!:  Unearthing the New Treasures of Archeology by Brian M. Fagan- Through first-hand accounts, renowned archeologists discuss how their discoveries have helped to mold our understanding of history.  Discovery will appeal to readers who are interested in Tess Chaykin’s profession in The Last Templar.

The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale- The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed utilizes recently discovered Templar inquisition transcripts to provide a more thorough examination of the enigmatic order of medieval knights.  Both The Last Templar and The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed have the Knights Templar as a main topic.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte- When hired to assassinate two Englishmen visiting Madrid, seventeenth -century sword for hire Diego Alatriste finds himself torn between his conscience and fulfilling his contract.  Like The Last Templar, Captain Alatriste is a suspenseful, fast-paced novel rich in historical detail.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown-  While working to solve a murder, a French cryptologist and an American symbologist  uncover secrets that can discredit the traditional beliefs of the Christian Church. Both The Last Templar and The Da Vinci Code are suspenseful, fast-paced novels about the Catholic Church, conspiracies, and cryptography.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne- While investigating the death of a monk, an American journalist becomes entangled if a web of conspiracy involving the Catholic Church.  Like The Last Templar, Sanctus is a dramatic, fast-paced novel filled with conspiracy and nonstop action.

Elissa

Dutch

November 17, 2011

Author: Teri Woods

Title: Dutch

Genre: Urban Lit

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 242

Geographical Setting: New York and New Jersey

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: 1st in the Dutch Series

Plot Summary: Bernard James Jr., better known as Dutch, is a New York drug kingpin, but when the book starts, he’s on trial and it seems like his empire is about crash all around him. As the trial continues, the testimony and a series of flashbacks serve to show Dutch’s rise to power from a teen working at a pizza place to a car thief, and after a stint in prison his eventual transformation into one of the most infamous druglords in the East Coast.

Subject Headings: Gangsters, organized crime, street life, mafia, African-American men

Appeal: fast-paced, dark, gritty, hard-edged, stark, plot-driven, dialect-heavy, compelling, flashbacks, steamy, chilling, flawed characters

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, gritty, flashbacks

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dyson, Michael. “Mercy, Mercy, Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye”. Not quite a biography, Dyson’s book shows how various factors—his abusive father, living in the inner city, cultural racism, religious upbringing, alcoholism and drug abuse—shaped Marvin Gaye into the popstar and man he became. Woods does similar in creating the story of Dutch.

Greene, Robert.  “48 Laws of Power”. Dutch was all about power—who had it, how to earn, it, how to keep it, even during Dutch’s stint in juvie. In this book, Greene discusses the concept of power and creates a series of laws based on popular leaders, such as Machiavelli, Henry Kissinger, Sun-Tzu and Queen Elizabeth. Dutch would probably keep this book on his nightstand.

Moore, Wes. “The Other Wes Moore”. Popular book showing the true-life story of two black men named Wes Moore who grew up on the streets; one ended up in jail, the other was a Rhodes Scholar. Dutch seemed to blame society for his fate, and this book focuses on society’s effects on black inner city youth.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Ashley and JaQuavis. “The Cartel”. The Diamond family is the most infamous drug cartel family in Miami; when Carter dies, his illegitimate son takes over; but a rival group tries to take them down. Like Dutch, Young Carter is a new kingpin that must take on rivals in a gritty urban lit title.

Dickey, Eric Jerome. “Thieves’ Paradise.” Dante Black is a low-level hood, as opposed to Dutch’s far-loftier lifestyle. However, both must deal with betrayal within their circle of friends, ex-lovers, and others in this urban lit book.

Puzo, Mario. “The Godfather.” Although a different sort of gangster in some ways, Dutch probably modeled himself in some ways after Don Corleone, the eponymous Godfather. This is the book that was the basis for the movie, and a classic in its own right.

Name: Brian C

“I Heard You Paint Houses”: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa

November 16, 2011

Author: Charles Brandy

Title: “I Heard You Paint Houses”: Frank “The Irishman”
Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of
Jimmy Hoffa

Genre: Non-Fiction; True-Crime

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 309

Geographical Setting: USA

Time Period: 1930s-2000s

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  A first-person narrative of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s life.  The story is composed from passages of Sheeran’s
own words while author Charles Brandt provides the  background story.  Sheeran’s issues begin as a young boy who is
encouraged by his father to start bar fights for beer money.  The story follows Sheeran through his 411
days of active duty during World War II where he claims on the orders of higher
ranking officers he learned how to conduct private executions of German
prisoners and follow orders effectively.
Once returning to America Sheeran began working as a hustler and  as a hitman for notorious crime boss Russell
Bufalino.   Sheeran provides information
on mob relations, notorious mob hits, and even the Kennedy assassination.  The most interesting part of this book is
Sheeran’s relationship with Jimmy Hoffa.
Sheeran is introduced to Hoffa by Bufalino and this is where the phrase,
“I heard you paint houses” originates.
Sheeran would not only become Jimmy Hoffa’s muscle but close personal
friend.  Through Sheeran’s own words this
book brings to light to the details surrounding the mysterious end of Jimmy
Hoffa’s life.

Subject
Headings: Hoffa Jimmy 1913-1975?, Sheeran Frank, International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, Gangsters, Mafia.

Appeal: compelling, easy, fast-paced, chilling,
candid, menacing atmosphere, hard-edged, psychological, well-drawn, flawed,
character-centered, explicitly violent, flashbacks, political.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-centered,
explicitly violent, flashbacks.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Westies: Inside New
York’s Irish Mob
, by T.J. English.  The story of a notorious New York West Side
gang who specialize in a dismemberment execution style that was feared among
the toughest factions of the mob.

 Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage
of Charles Carneglia, Mafia Hit Man
, by Anthony DeStefano.  This book is a look into the mind of Charles
Carneglia who was associated with John Gotti.
The book covers much of the mob’s history and address famous mob
personalities such as those from the
movie Goodfellas.

JFK and the Unspeakable:
Why He Died and Why it Matters
, by James Douglass.  Similarly to Jimmy Hoffa the truth behind the
assassination of President Kennedy has always been open to question and filled
with various conspiracy theories.  This
book presents the view that it was not the mob but rather the military and
intelligence agencies in the United States that were behind the assassination of
JFK.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

For Nothing, by Nicholas Denmon.
This fast paced thriller is about an undercover cop who goes deep in an
organized crime family to seek out the assassin that killed his friend.

Who is Lou Sciortino?: A
Novel About Murder, the Movies, and Mafia Family Values,
by Ottavio Cappellani.
A fictional violent mafia comedy that is often compared to the
television show the Sopranos.  The story
takes place in New York City and Sicily.

Cut Throat Mafia, by Derrick Johnson.
A story about a mafia family in Cleveland Ohio that was on top as far as
mob activity goes until they started to slip with the introduction of other
mafia families.  The family finds
themselves doing all they can to survive against other families with similar “cut
throat” tactics.

Name: Bill P.

Beloved

November 16, 2011

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: Beloved

Genre: African-American Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 316

Geographical Setting: Ohio, Kentucky

Time Period: 1870s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about the devastating effects of slavery in a lyrical and haunting style. The story begins in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Sethe is living with her daughter, Denver, in a house that is haunted by a malevolent spirit, believed to be the ghost of Sethe’s baby daughter, who died 18 years ago. One day, Paul D, who used to be a slave along with Sethe at Sweet Home Plantation in Kentucky, shows up at Sethe’s house. Paul and Sethe begin a relationship and Paul moves in with Sethe and Denver. Paul chases the spirit out, but soon after, a strange woman who goes only by the name of ‘Beloved’ shows up at the house and soon moves in also. Beloved was also the name given to Sethe’s baby daughter who died 18 years ago, and the tragic circumstances of Beloved’s death are eventually revealed. Through a series of flashbacks, which seem to flow effortlessly within the present narrative, Sethe’s experiences as a slave at the most ironically named farm ever, Sweet Home, and her escape to Ohio and freedom, show the lasting psychological effects of slavery and how hard it can be to escape the past.

Subject Headings: Slavery, Post-Civil War United States, African-American, Ghosts

Appeal: Engrossing, Atmospheric, Haunting, Mystical, Introspective, Well-developed characters, Complex, Flashbacks, Tragic, Details of Slavery, Lyrical, Poetic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Haunting, Complex, Lyrical

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs. This is one of the first personal narratives written by a former slave and one of the few written by a woman. Jacobs escaped from a plantation in North Carolina after years of brutal treatment from her owners. Jacobs’ narrative is a haunting, true account of the evils of slavery.

2) Slavery and the Making of America  by James Oliver Horton. This historical account of slavery in the United States is richly illustrated and covers a wide range of topics. Readers will gain a better understanding of how slavery began and ended in America and why understanding slavery is so important to understanding United States history.

3) Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement by Fergus M. Bordewich. The story of the Underground Railroad, which helped Sethe escape to freedom in Beloved, is explored in this book and myths about the Railroad are turned into fact.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Property by Valerie Martin. This atmospheric, haunting novel takes place in antebellum Louisiana and is written from the perspective of a white woman unhappily married to a sugar plantation owner who takes out her resentment on her slave, Sarah, who is also her husband’s mistress.

2) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. Readers who enjoy Toni Morrison’s lyrical and complex writing will enjoy the similar style of Faulkner. This novel tells the story of the tragic Compson family in the southern United States.

3) Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. This novel by Allende is written in a lyrical style and is about Zarité, a woman who is born into slavery in the colony of Saint-Domingue. Like Beloved, this novel explores the psychic wounds of slavery.

Name: Elizabeth Allen

The Gangster We Are All Looking For

August 17, 2011

Author: Lê Thi Diem Thúy

Title: The Gangster We Are All Looking For

Genre: Multicultural, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: May 6, 2003

Number of Pages: 160

Geographical Setting: San Diego, California

Time Period: 1970s, 1980s

Plot Summary: The unnamed narrator, a six year old girl, is flees Saigon to California leaving her mother and deceased brother behind.  The story jumps around in time detailing different accounts of her childhood playing with friends in a washing machine box to fights between her mother and father where afterward, things would be broken and people would be bruised.  Their marriage is strained by their efforts to adapt to American culture, but also by the memories left behind.  The father was a “Buddhist gangster” which left his wife’s parents to be opposed to the marriage.  The narrator with a conflicted and troubled mind runs away from at sixteen.  The story is lyrical and relaxed and the stories fold together like poems written from different points of the narrator’s life.

Subject Headings: Family Relationships, Vietnamese-Americans, Father and Daughter

Appeal: detailed, descriptive, engrossing, moving, introspective, character-centered, flashbacks, poetic, nostalgic

3 terms that best describe this book: compelling, emotionally-charged, poignant

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Madre and I: a Memoir of Our Immigrant Lives by Guillermo Reyes

This is the story of Reyes life leaving Chile to live in Los Angeles with his mother while coping with sexuality and body issues.  It is also about immigrants living in California finding their place.  (memoir, poignant)

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Wolff chronicles his past discussing his wandering mother, his abusive step-father, and the strange processes of growing up.  Similar to Lê’s novel, this memoir discusses an abusive home life and is a coming of age story.  (nostalgic, reflective)

The Unwanted by Kien Nguyen

The son of an American businessman and a wealthy Vietnamese woman reflects on his life living in Saigon in 1975 after the exodus of the American troops and his journey to the United States.  Similar to Lê’s novel, this work discusses life in Saigon where she fled to come to America. (engaging, compelling)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao

This coming of age story is about a Vietnamese girl who comes to America and learns about her family’s past in Vietnam. (nostalgic, moving)

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

This novel encompasses the story of two generations of four Chinese American women and their daughters. (witty, encompassing)

Yellow: Stories by Don Lee

This work contains stories of Asian American lives focusing on ethnic diversities but also universal fears of love, failure, abandonment.  Similar to Lê’s work it is about Asian Americans living in California.  (literary, unpredicted)

Name: Christina Freitag

 

No-No Boy

August 17, 2011

Author: John Okada

Title: No-No Boy

Genre: Multi-cultural, Asian-American

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages: 260

Geographical Setting: Seattle, WA

Time Period: 1945, just following World War II

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: 25 year old Ichiro grew up in Seattle, but for four years sat captive, experiencing the horrors of internment camps and prisons. The United States punished Ichiro, as they did countless Japanese-Americans, because he resembled the enemy. Ichiro was a no-no boy, a Japanese-American who refused to fight in WWII. Now, the country he loved and viewed as a beacon of hope has turned its back on him because he did not have the heart to fight a war. Following the end of WWII and his release from prison, Ichiro constantly struggles with shame and regret for his decision. Although Ichiro’s parents represent his biggest supporters, home offers little comfort; Ichiro’s mother believes Japan has won the war and awaits the arrival of Japanese ships to bring the family home. Meanwhile, Ichiro’s internal struggles alter his once bright personality and strong ambition. The only chance for Ichiro to regain his lost identity is through friendship and self-acceptance.
Okada, a Japanese-American, respectfully and accurately depicts the struggles of Japanese-Americans following World War II. The author examines key issues related to immigration including profound conflicts of culture and racism. Okada does so in a detailed and accessible manner. The themes and writing style render this book a timeless resource for any one living, or curious about, the immigrant experience in the United States.

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans; Japanese-Americans—Mass Internment, 1942-1945; Immigrants–United States; Racism–United States; Post World War II; Japanese-Americans–Family Relations; Suicide; Conflicts of Culture–United States

Appeal: Relaxed, Emotionally-charged, Poignant, Sympathetic, Evocative, Introspective, Issue oriented, Thought-provoking, Character-centered, Historical Details, Accurate, Timeless, Accessible, Intimate, Dialect, Detailed, Flashbacks

Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, Emotionally-charged, Timeless

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
(This memoir offers an emotionally-charged account of Japanese-American internment during WWII and the experience of Japanese-Americans following the war. Like No-No Boy, this book offers the perspective of a young Japanese-American during WWII who experiences racism, imprisonment, and culture conflicts.)

Paper Daughter by Elaine M. Mar
(Although the frame of this book differs slightly from No-No Boy because it involves Chinese immigrants in a more contemporary setting, this autobiography manages to accurately and emotionally convey the immigrant experience in the United States. A distinct similarity between the books involves the account of the struggles between an immigrant mother who denies American values and a child who embraces them,)

Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald
(Gruenewald offers an emotionally-charged and accurate description of life in internment camps during WWII. The Japanese-American author offers numerous historical details in an accessible manner. The result is a timeless book about racism, immigration, overcoming adversity, and self-acceptance.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
(This novel revolves around the tumultuous life of a Japanese-American who has just returned to the Pacific Northwest after being held captive in an internment camp. The novel appears character-driven, issue oriented, and presented at a relaxed pace. Racism represents one of the most thought-provoking issues tackled in the book.)

Color of the Sea by John Hamamura
(This story details the experiences of a Japanese-American man who is torn away from his loved ones after they are placed in an internment camp. The main character deals with a major conflict of culture as he enlists in the US army to carry out a secret mission upon Japan. This issue-oriented and character-centered book offers a timeless account of prejudice and racism. The writing style accessible and detailed.)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(This thought-provoking and issue-oriented classic tackles racism, stereotype, and prejudice within a single US community. The plot revolves around the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is a timeless, coming-of-age story told through the prospective of a young protagonist. The storyline is character-driven.)

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

August 8, 2011

Author:  Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Title:  Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

Publication Date:2006

Pages:  331

Genre:  Non-fiction

Geographical Setting:  Pakistan

Time Period:  1993-2003

Subject Headings:  Greg Mortenson, Pakistan, K2, Korphe Pakistan, Pakistan Schools, Muslims Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia Institute

Appeal: steady, contemplative, moving, detailed, lifelike, complex, layered, flashbacks, political, informal, unusual, character-centered, (meandering)

Plot Summary: Professional mountain climber Greg Mortenson, tackles Pakistan’s K2 mountain in an effort to bury his deceased sister’s necklace.  Failure to do so takes him on a journey to a remote Pakistani village, where he discovers exceptionally poor conditions and lack of education for the children.   This  experience launches his lifetime commitment to building schools in various remote villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, making unusual friendships and enemies along the way.

Three terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, political, unusual, (meandering)

Similar authors and fiction works:

Murder on Everest by Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins

Murder mystery about the death of a multi-millionaire’s son as he attempts to climb Mt. Everest.  fast-paced, details of mountain climbing, dangerous

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

A memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Graphic Novel.  builds in intensity, dangerous, family-centered

Christy by Catherine Marshall

A young woman moves away from her life of privilege in order to teach the children of an impoverished community in the Smoky Mountains. detailed setting, character-centered, disturbing

Similar authors and non-fiction works:

Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz

This book is a coming of age memoir written by Ali Eteraz, who was born in Pakistan and raised in the United States by the age of 10.  He struggles with his religious upbringing versus western way of life.  introspective, informative, authentic

Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell

Esme Raji Codell is a first year teacher working in an inner city school.  This is a diary account of the obstacles she faces including non-supportive administrators, abusive parents and angry students.  candid, authentic, humorous

K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts

Harrowing true stories about six expeditions attempting to climb the second highest mountain in the world. dramatic, compelling, informative

Name:  Debbie

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

August 1, 2011

Author:  Franklin, Tom

TitleCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Genre:  Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Thriller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  288

Geographical Setting:  Rural Mississippi

Time Period:  Present Day

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In the late 1970s in Chabot, MS, two boys come together for a short yet pivotal time in their lives to share a boyhood friendship that neither can acknowledge.  Larry is white, odd and bookish, the son of lower middle class parents.  Silas is black and poor, the son of a single mom moved from Chicago, to a cabin on land owned by Larry’s father.   For one summer, they roam the woods together, and Larry teaches Silas about hunting and fishing.  Larry finally has the friend his mother has prayed for.  When school starts, the lines of segregation are drawn and the boys lead separate lives.  Larry becomes ostracized as the class nerd, while Silas, who excels at baseball, becomes the high school star.  One night Larry takes a popular local girl on a date and she disappears without a trace.  Although never formally accused, Larry, with his peculiar ways is presumed guilty.  Twenty-five years pass.  “Scary Larry” leads a solitary existence shunned by the local townspeople, and Silas, who went off to school, has returned to Chabot as the local police constable.  Their paths cross again when another girl goes missing and all eyes turn to Larry as the obvious suspect.  It is up to Silas to investigate Larry’s involvement,  and in the process, he is forced to remember boyhood secrets he has tried so hard to forget.   Crooked Letter Crooked Letter is a beautifully written, poignant story told in flashbacks.  Although there is a mystery element in the plot, the book is really a heart wrenching character study of Larry and Silas, and how actions and circumstances in their past have had devastating effects on their lives. It is the story of friendship, loneliness, racism, good and evil, and having the courage to make things right no matter what the cost.   The author, Tom Franklin, is a master at setting the mood in this book, which reeks of southern Gothic, wasted lives, small town tragedies and decaying secrets.  He moves the story along at a languid, southern pace, but introduces intriguing plot elements and characters that make it hard to put the book down.  The language is wonderfully authentic, and the southern dialogue perfectly fits the story.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, with its powerful theme of forgiveness and redemption, is a book that will resonate with the reader long after the story has ended.

Subject Headings:  Mississippi, segregation, murder mystery, psychological fiction, police investigations, rural South, Nero migration, racial issues, southern fiction

Appeal:  Foreshadowing, flashbacks, poignant, heart breaking, touching, atmospheric, emotional, slow paced, rich character development, complex plot, suspenseful, compelling, thought provoking, engaging, hopeful.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Atmospheric, poignant, thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:  Melton A. McLaurin, Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, authors account of his boyhood in the 1950s set in rural South; Ann Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, autobiography of author’s struggle to overcome racism in rural South during the 1950s and 1960s;  James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth:  The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, a historic and economic account of life on the Mississippi Delta.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:  Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides, a southern family coming to grips with secrets from their past; Dennis Lehane, Mystic River , psychological suspense also dealing with a murder and someone falsely accused; Stuart Woods, Chiefs, a murder mystery set in the rural South.

Name:  Chris Murray