Posts Tagged ‘folksy’

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

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

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

When Calls the Heart

November 16, 2011

Author: Janette Oke

Title: When Calls the Heart

Genre: Inspirational, Gentle Reads, Romance

Publication Date: 1983

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; Lacombe, Alberta; Pine Springs, Alberta

Time Period: Early 20th century

Series (If applicable): Canadian West series

Plot Summary:  Elizabeth Thatcher has a wonderful life in Toronto with as a school teacher living with her God-fearing, close knit family.  However, when a letter from her older half-brother living across the country in Calgary comes suggesting that Elizabeth might like to teach out West and visit with her family there, she decides to go.  Through a series of mishaps, Elizabeth ends up in a small town with a new school over a hundred miles away from her brother and his family.  Here, she must adjust to life in the small town, start a school, and live on her own for the first time.  Although she did not move across country to find a husband, and in fact had decided that she was not necessarily looking for marriage at all, her plans get turned on their head when she meets Wynn Delaney, a friend of her half-brother’s and a member of the North West Mounted Police.  Through her attraction towards Wynn, her newfound independence, and her new situation, Elizabeth grows in faith, love and confidence in this sweet novel.

Subject Headings: Canada; Toronto; Calgary; Pioneers; North West Mounted Police; Teachers; Rural Life

 Appeal: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural, domestic, sweet, inspirational, gentle, heartwarming, homespun, hopeful, romantic, faithful characters, series characters, folksy, details of Canadian pioneers, accessible, straightforward, unpretentious

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

One-Room Schools of the Middle West: An Illustrated History by Wayne E. Fuller

This title gives the history of one-room schools in the Midwest, including photographs.  Although Elizabeth Thatcher’s school is in Alberta, Canada, this book will give background on how such a school works and shows what her school could have looked like.

Forging the Prairie West  by John Herd Thompson

This title, as part of the Illustrated History of Canada series, discusses the West of Canada where Elizabeth Thatcher goes to live with her brother and his family.  This book should give background on the history of the area and what happened in the time after which Elizabeth’s story is set.

Looking North: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Illustrations: The Potlatch Collection by Karal Ann Marling

This illustrated title provides artwork featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties.  In When Calls the Heart, Wynn Delaney works as a Mountie.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This classic title tells the story of a young girl who goes into the Appalachian mountains as a missionary school teacher.  This romantic, inspirational tale does not gloss over some of the more gritty aspects of living in the area in the early 20th century.  Christy’s work with her school children, romantic interests, and Christian beliefs should interest those who enjoy When Calls the Heart.

A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover

This novel, which takes place in the Canadian frontier, tells the story of two women of different social classes who move to the area to start a new life with their husbands.  This book along with the rest in the series should interest those who enjoy the setting and inspirational Christian nature of Janette Oke’s Canadian West series.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

This classic series should interest fans of When Calls the Heart for a variety of reasons.  A more rural Canadian setting is featured in most of these books along with a strong family life, going to class and teaching in one-room schoolhouses, and the funny, heartwarming and romantic situations that Anne Shirley finds herself in throughout the entire series.

Name: Christi H.

West of Dodge

July 23, 2011

Author: Louis L’Amour

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 226

Geographical Setting: Old West

Time Period: 1860-1910

Plot Summary: A hero rides into town and finds himself in the middle of a plot to kill the town sheriff; a young man, looking to get rich during the gold rush, happens upon a widowed mother and her teenage daughter trying to make it on their own; A reckless bank robber and a hardened Texas Ranger square off in a shoot-out that will find one man lying dead in his grave. These and many other action-packed short stories make-up this thrilling saga of the Old West.

Subject Headings: Cowboys; Gunfights; Old West; Westerns; Bank Robbers; Cattle Thieves; Frontier; Adventure Stories; Short Stories

Appeal: Detailed settings, folksy, action-oriented, nostalgic, impassioned, unpretentious and foreboding tone, historical details of the old west, intriguing heroes, natural and simplistic language

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book: Detailed setting, heroic main character, action-oriented

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Saloons of the Old West by Richard Erdoes (history of the saloons of the old west, includes stories, songs, legends, and photographs)

Men of the West : life on the American frontier by Cathy Luchetti (an account of the lives of the pioneers of the American frontier, includes memoirs, letters, and diaries of cowboys, townspeople, doctors, homesteaders, and many more)

Lawmen of the Old West : the good guys by Del Cain (biography of several lawmen who stood up for what was right during the days of the Wild West, includes historical accounts of gunfights and hunts for outlaws)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

That Buzzard from Brimstone: A Western Quartet by Dan Cushman (focus on action and setting over characterization, heroes vs. villains, short stories)

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean (non-stop action, strong and courageous male heroes who explore complex settings)

Shadow of the Moon by Douglas C. Jones (historical detail, adventure/action-oriented, exploring new frontiers)

Name: Tara Bauer

Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson

April 20, 2011

0446675601.01._SX220_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg (220×344)Author: Nalo Hopkinson

Title: Midnight Robber

Genre: multicultural science fiction

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: The fictional planets of Toussaint and New Half-Way Tree

Time Period: distant future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: On the utopian, Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, violent criminals are exiled to the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree.  Innocent young Tan-Tan is unjustly thrust into exile there when her convicted father, Antonio, drags her along.  Antonio’s selfish actions continue to add additional layers of misery onto a life already made difficult for Tan-Tan by the harsh realities of New Half-Way Tree.  As a child, Tan-Tan loved to play the role of the legendary Robber Queen; after a horrendous trauma inflicted by her father, the role of the Robber Queen becomes reality for Tan-Tan, whose struggle for survival in New Half-Way Tree is also a struggle to reconcile the various parts of her identity.  Along the way, Tan-Tan meets aliens, dangerous beasts, and a vengeful stepmother.  Hopkinson’s rendering of the future mixes the idea of nanotechnology with Caribbean legends, to create an unconventional and fascinating science fiction experience.

Subject Headings: Abuse; Aliens; Caribbean culture; Carnival; Exile;  Fathers and daughters; Legends; Nanotechnology

Appeal: character-centered, descriptive, detailed setting, dangerous, folksy, imaginative, hard-edged, homespun language, imaginative, mythic, moving, poetic dialect, vibrant, violent, vivid characters, well-crafted, world-building

3 terms that best describe this book: imaginative, poetic, vivid characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, edited by Thomas Glave – Homosexuality is common and accepted by the Caribbeans in Midnight Robber. Readers who enjoyed that aspect of the novel may enjoy this collection, which like Midnight Robber also features some patois.

Carnival: Culture in Action – The Trinidad Experience, edited by Milla Cozart Riggio – Carnival plays a major role in Midnight Robber. Those who enjoyed the colorful descriptions of Carnival customs and pageantry may enjoy this book, which includes both text and photo essays.

The Kiss: A Memoir, by Kathryn Harrison – Like Midnight Robber, a book about an incestuous father-daughter relationship, and the daughter’s attempt to reclaim her life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy –  like Midnight Robber, this is a work of moving, character-driven, feminist science fiction that features a utopian future and its dystopian alternative.

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban – Readers who enjoyed the creativity of the language in Midnight Robber may appreciate this classic in the science fiction genre; like Midnight Robber, it was also written with an invented dialect.

The Girl with the Golden Shoes, by Colin Channer –  A young, Caribbean girl is exiled from her community; the book also features poetic patois.

-Noelle Nightingale

The Warmth of Other Suns: by Isabel Wilkerson

March 30, 2011

Author: Isabel Wilkerson

Title: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Genre: Popular Narrative Non Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 640

Geographical Setting: The United States of America

Time Period: 20th Century (mostly from 1935 to 1999)

Plot Summary: This is the story of six million black Americans who courageously chose to leave, or escape, the Jim Crow South and live in Northern or Western parts of the U.S. It is a story of how many of these individuals thrived in the North despite barriers including widespread racism and competitive urban living. Moreover, it is the narrative of three such migrants and their detailed life histories . . . Ida Mae and her husband fled the South in the 1930’s and settled into a Chicago home where they balanced blue collar work, family, religion, and time for Southern cooking and hospitality. George escaped the South in the 1940’s and did his best to establish a home in Harlem with his family, but his work with the railroad required routine travel back to the South. Robert journeyed out of the South in the 1950’s and built his new life in Los Angeles as a family man, respected surgeon, and a hopeless gambler. As Ida Mae, George, and Robert tell their unique stories of life during the Great Migration, an underlying shared experience surfaces.

Subject Headings: Rural-urban Migration, Migration Internal, United States, History, 20th Century, African Americans, Black Americans, America’s Great Migration, Great Black Migration, Racism

Appeal: builds in intensity, folksy, candid, humorous, insightful, sobering, detailed, factual, multicultural characters, character-centered, multiple plots, socio-political issue-oriented, thought-provoking, hopeful, page-turner

3 terms that best describe this book: a story–that is comprehensive, yet intimate; that reads like fiction, but creatively draws the reader back to its unwavering reality; and that lives up to the title of being epic!

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (set during The Great Depression, The Joads, an Oklahoma farming family stricken by the Dust Bowl migrate to California, but are faced with further adversity)

To Help by Kathryn Stockett (explores racism in the South during the Jim Crow era and is humorous with likeable female characters whose situations at home, at work, and in the public arena are sobering)

The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo (a tale of an Italian immigrant woman in America who came with family, love of her homeland, and the courage to persevere as her traditional values are challenged)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a comprehensive, yet intimate history of Abraham Lincoln’s personal and political life in the context of friends, rivals, and an America divided by racism)

Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin (a biography focused on baseball’s Hall of Famer Branch Rickey and his recruit of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940’s—an act that defied racial norms)

Fly Away by Peter Rutkoff and William Scott (a 20th century history of how black Southerners who migrated North modernized and shaped American society while maintaining ancestral traditions)

–Jeanne Jesernik

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

March 16, 2011

Author: Alan Bradley

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 370

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: 1950

Series (If applicable): Flavia de Luce Mysteries #1

Plot Summary:
The quaint life of eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, a budding chemist with a special interest in poisons, is disturbed by the discovery of a dead bird left on the doorstep of her family’s English manor, a postage stamp impaled in its beak. This symbolic message visibly disturbs her reclusive, stamp collecting father, and when she finds a dying man in the cucumber patch only hours later, Flavia is mostly thrilled by the opportunity to investigate the relationship between the two events. Her investigation reveals links between her father, the recently deceased, and the suspicious death of a schoolteacher, and when her father is arrested, the precocious preteen is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Narrator Flavia is as charming as she is intelligent, and Bradley’s fictional Bishop’s Lacey, a small town in the English countryside, comes alive with his evocative descriptions and its colorful inhabitants.

Subject Headings:
Child detectives, England, Murder investigations, Chemistry, Poisons, Sisters, Father and daughter, Stamp collecting, Child prodigies

Witty, compelling, quirky, descriptive, extravagant, upbeat, playful, polished, well-drawn characters, evocative, folksy, investigative, series, lush, details of poisons, detailed setting

3 terms that best describe this book:
Upbeat, playful, compelling

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Told from the perspective of 15 year-old Christopher, an autistic math prodigy, this touching and unique tale follows him as he tries to solve the mystery behind his neighbor’s dead dog and stumbles upon some revelations about his absent mother.
Similarities: Young prodigy solving a mystery, quirky characters, family relationships

Death at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries #1) by Carola Dunn
After her husband is killed during World War I, Daisy Dalrymple decides to make an independent living as a journalist. When a murder occurs while Daisy is researching her first assignment at Wentwater Court, she aids Scotland Yard in finding the killer.
Similarities: Amateur investigator, Historical English setting

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
This quirky novel is accented by illustrations and footnotes from 12-year-old narrator and prodigy, T.S. Spivet. When he travels to Washington, D. C. to accept an award, he meets a colorful cast of characters.
Similarities: Young prodigy as narrator, richly detailed, family relationships

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar by Peter Macinnis
Details the many uses of popular toxins, how they are detected and created, and how poisons have been used throughout history and popular literature.
Similarities: Poisons are narrator Flavia’s passion

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
In this memoir, acclaimed science writer and distinguished neurologist Oliver Sacks recalls his childhood love affair with chemistry and the pains of growing up in wartime England.
Similarities: Child chemists, England in the 1950s, quirky family

Blue Mauritius by Helen Morgan
Provides a history of the most valuable stamp of all time, the passionate collectors in pursuit of it, and how stamp hunting became a popular hobby.
Similarities: Investigative, Stamp collecting is Colonel de Luce’s hobby of choice

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

More Information than You Require

April 14, 2010

Author:  John Hodgman

TitleMore Information than You Require

Genre:  Nonfiction; Audio book

Publication Date:  2009

Running Time:  12hrs., 45 min.

Geographical Setting: Hodgman’s mind

Time Period:  Current Day

Series:  Not officially, but a continuation of Hodgman’s first book, The Areas of My Expertise

Plot Summary:  What do you get when you cross a book of mostly-untrue facts, witty insights into family life, and the dry humor of a minor television personality (the “PC guy” from the Apple commercials)? This question sums up More Information than You Require. Hodgman’s newest book is a follow-up to the complete world knowledge found in his first book, The Areas of My Expertise. Because, as we all know, and as Hodgman tells us, complete world knowledge cannot be contained in one book; it is a living thing that must be consistently chronicled.

This irreverent book of knowledge is comprised of made-up facts, useless trivia, and insights into the mole-men who still live among us. Hodgman’s book does not tell a story; instead, it is more along the lines of a running satire of an almanac—as you follow along with Hodgman’s logic, you find yourself believing such silly facts, like Napoleon was the first man on the moon or that a certain United States president wore a necklace of skulls.  Tempered with vignettes about Hodgman’s actual life (which are often sweet and funnier than the made-up facts), More Information than You Require is a fun and funny book to enjoy when you need a light-hearted look at the world around us.

As an audio book: Reading the physical book and listening to the audio book are two completely different experiences for More Information than You Require. The physical book contains charts, graphs, pictures, and unique word styles to create the satirical almanac feel. However, the audio book experience is more like listening to a twelve-hour long podcast: Hodgman is reading, but also has friends come to play music, mix drinks, and generally have a good time. With an opening by Paul Rudd, musical talents of the “feral mountain man” (as Hodgman likes to call him) Jonathan Coulton (who, as all good YouTube watchers know, created such sensations as “Code Monkey”), Ricky Gervais, Ira Glass, Rachel Maddow, Sarah Vowell, and Zach Galifianakis. Hodgman’s NPR roots show with the audio book, as at times the listener feels like he/she is on an episode of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, or in the variety show A Prairie Home Companion. Whether Rachel Maddow is making turn-of-the-century French cocktails (with Red Bull and absinthe, of course) or Coulton is creating jingles for dog food, this audio book is for the listener who needs a lot of different types of stimulation when experiencing a book.

Subject Headings:  Humor writing—general, American humor

Appeal: deliberate, easy, leisurely-paced, eccentric, engaging, quirky, character-centered, folksy, episodic, contemporary, edgy, flamboyant, humorous, playful, sarcastic, upbeat, chatty, conversational, elaborate, engaging, flamboyant, journalistic, sophisticated, unusual, vivid, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: satirical, witty, quirky

Similar Authors and Works:


The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell: What better way to learn about the history of the Puritans than through the witty, dry humor of Sarah Vowell? Readers who enjoy Hodgman’s tone and the historical aspects of his book will love Vowell’s thorough and insightful look into this aspect of the American past.

America (The Book), by Jon Stewart: Another take on American history, Stewart creates a “textbook” of sorts to provide witty and sarcastic insight into the more ridiculous aspects of our past. Readers who enjoy the unique format and tone of Hodgman’s book will find Stewart’s work in the same tradition.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris: Cheeky insights into American life coupled with witty writing makes Sedaris a good companion to Hodgman’s work. The short story format will satisfy the less focused readers, and the sarcastic humor will keep the reader engaged.


Postcards from the Edge, by Carrie Fisher: The frank and sarcastic tone that Fisher takes with her novel compliments the tone created by Hodgman. Although dealing with far deeper issues, Fisher’s witty insights into life behind the rehab walls keeps this pseudo-memoir from becoming morose and instead creates a world where we can all laugh and cry at our own addictions.

A Model World and Other Stories, by Michael Chabon: The short story format along with the ironic and humorous tone makes Chabon an excellent compliment to Hodgman. Readers who want something a little more understated with the same type of tone will enjoy Chabon’s collection.

High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby: The readers who enjoy the pop culture aspect of Hodgman’s work will enjoy Hornby’s humorous tale of the owner of a failing record store.

Three Bags Full

March 17, 2010

Author: Leonie Swann

Title: Three Bags Full

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 341

Geographical Setting: Glennkill, a fictional village in Ireland

Time Period: Present day (although sheep can’t possibly be expected to pay attention to such little details as time!)

Plot Summary: What’s a sheep to do? With the discovery of their shepherd, George Glenn, murdered, this crafty flock of sheep decides to take the investigation into their own hands (hoofs). Before George’s murder, the sheep lead a quiet, peaceful existence filled with casual grazing and romance stories. After George’s murder, the sheep must overcome their fears of humans to figure out the who’s, what’s, and why’s, because the humans are not equipped to handle this serious matter—they don’t even have the proper sense of smell! Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill and possibly the world, each sheep uses his or her special talents to examine the evidence, observe the suspects, and try to discover the murderer’s identity. This quirky and charming take on the classic whodunit sweeps the reader up into the shady world of the seemingly picturesque Glennkill, as the sheep collect the clues and avert the dangers that still lurk in the shadows. The sheep quickly discover that not every human (or sheep!) is who he or she seems, and nothing is simple in this small village. Told from the perspective of the sheep, the investigation takes many twists and turns as the sheep try to understand George’s death and the human world. An eccentric, intriguing mystery that has a great amount of literary allusions (for example, Miss Maple the sheep is strikingly similar to Miss Marple, a recurring character in Agatha Christie’s crime mystery series), the sheep must see people for who and what they really are to figure out what really happened to George.

Subject Headings: Shepherds; Sheep; Talking animals; Murder investigation; Ireland; Mystery stories, German; German fiction — 21st century

Appeal: eccentric, engaging, multiple points of view, quirky, well-developed characters, plot twists, folksy, investigative, literary references, multiple plot lines, resolved ending, rural setting, small-town, atmospheric, homespun, gentle, witty, playfully philosophical, unpretentious, upbeat, unaffected, colorful

3 terms that best describe this book: gentle mystery, eccentrically fun, surprising plot twists

Similar Authors and Works:


Inside the Animal Mind: A Groundbreaking Exploration of Animal Intelligence by George Page: Wonder what sheep are really thinking? This nonfiction book will help the reader who is interested in how an animal really thinks.

The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland by Christopher Fitz-Simon: Glennkill is one of the most beautiful (fictional) villages in Ireland. This book will help give the reader a better idea of what exactly an Irish village looks like.

The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of A K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective by Kathy Albrecht: A perfect read for the reader who wants to learn more about real animals who solve crimes.


Basket Case by Carl Hiassen: For those who enjoy a witty writing style and lighter tone when reading a mystery, Hiassen’s novel provides quick-witted banter with socio-political undertones wrapped up in a murder whodunit.

Funny Bones: 15 New Tales of Murder and Mayhem edited by Joan Hess: Murder with a side of funny, this collection of stories will entice the reader who loves the tongue-in-cheek, humorous tone of Swann’s work.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: Told from the perspective of an autistic boy, this murder mystery provides the same outsider perspective as Swann’s sheep mixed with dark humor.

Name: Jessica Coates

The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

April 1, 2009

Author: Jennifer Chiaverini

Title: The Quilter’s Apprentice (first in a series, Elm Creek Quilts)

Genre: Gentle Read

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 271

Geographical Setting: Waterford, Pennsylvania

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Sarah and her husband Matt move because Matt has a new job, working for a landscaping company. Sarah has difficulty finding a new job herself. She accompanies Matt to visit one of his clients, Sylvia Compson. Sylvia is an elderly lady who lives in a huge house by herself. Sylvia’s sister Claudia has died, and Sylvia has returned to the family estate to get it ready for sale. Sylvia and her sister have been estranged because both of their husbands enlisted to fight in World War II, and only one husband came back (Claudia’s husband has returned, and Sylvia’s husband James was killed). James died trying to save Sylvia and Claudia’s brother, Richard, while Claudia’s husband froze in fear. Sylvia is strong-minded, opinionated, and rude to Sarah on the first meeting. Sylvia has hired Matt’s landscaping company because she wants to sell her house and move to a smaller property that she owns. She hires Sarah to help her clean up the inside of the house and get it ready for sale. Sarah accepts the position while she looks for a full-time job. Sarah discovers that Sylvia makes beautiful quilts, and learns how to make quilts from her. They eventually become friends through the quilt making lessons, and Sarah starts to realize that she needs to work on her relationship with her mother.

Subject Headings: Women–Friendship—Fiction; Quilt makers—Pennsylvania—Waterford—Fiction; Waterford—Pennsylvania—Fiction; Intergenerational friendship—Fiction; Senior women—Fiction; Domestic—Fiction; Historical—Fiction, American; Forgiveness in women—Fiction

Appeal: easy, relaxed, engaging, familiar, insightful, lifelike, realistic, recognizable, series, strong secondary characters, sympathetic, vivid, well-developed, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, gentle, folksy, historical details, intimate, small-town, comfortable, heartwarming, homespun, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, accessible, conversational, natural, simple, unaffected

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, easy, relaxed, engaging, familiar, realistic, character-driven

Brown Eyes Blue by Carolyn Meyer, engaging, character-driven, vivid, small-town, humorous

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (Port William Series #14), gentle, comfortable, small-town, character-driven

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors and Works:

The Art of Classic Quilt making by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig, 2 teachers present various projects that can be created.

Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists by Martha Sielman, a look at quilts as art, with numerous examples of each artist.

The Fabric of Friendship: Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women’s Relationships by Joy Carol, tells how important the relationship between mothers and daughters is, how to create and develop lasting friendships between women.


The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

March 25, 2009

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Title: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Genre: Mystery, Best seller, Audio book

Publication Date: 1998

Pages: 226 p.

Geographic Setting: Botswana

Time Period: Present Day

Series: The No. Ladies Detective Agency Mysteries

Plot Summary: Precious Ramotswe (Mma Ramotswe) starts the only female detective agency in Botswana. At first, cases are not east to find, but business picks up when people start to learn about her. Mma Ramotswe investigates the exploits of a cheating husband, a mysterious doctor who is only smart sometimes, a politician involved in witchcraft, and the kidnapping of a small boy. Strong secondary characters like, lovelorn mechanic J.L.B. Matekoni round out the entertaining cast. Through humor and the folksy African setting this gentle mystery story will warm hearts.

Subject Headings:   Women Detectives – Botswana, Missing children, Shamans, Kidnapping, Physicians, Miners, Botswana, Africa, Cozy mystery stories

Appeal:   deliberate, easy, insightful, faithful, realistic, recognizable, series (characters), strong secondary (characters), insightful, vivid, domestic, episodic, folksy, inspirational, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting, details of Botswana, intimate, comfortable, gentle, heartwarming, hopeful, optimistic, playful, concise, dialect, engaging, thoughtful, unpretentious, humorous

Similar Authors and works (fiction): The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (insightful, investigative, gentle); The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (heartwarming, humorous, engaging, optimistic); Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (humorous, investigative, vivid, episodic)

Similar Authors and works (non-fiction): Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron (heartwarming, folksy, inspirational); Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson (inspirational, hopeful, heartwarming, engaging) Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison (details of Botswana, humorous, vivid, playful)

Name: Michelle K