Posts Tagged ‘gentle’

Secrets of the Lost Summer

October 3, 2012

cover

Author: Carla Neggers

Title: Secrets of the Lost Summer

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 344

Geographical Setting: Swift River Valley- New England

Time Period: Present day and 1938 (historical flashbacks)

Plot Summary: After suffering from a friend’s betrayal that damages her career, Olivia Frost decides it is time to walk away from her life in Boston and start fresh in her hometown. While Olivia is delighted to renovate her historic home in scenic Swift River Valley, she finds herself annoyed by the dilapidated house that neighbors her own. Dylan McCaffrey, California businessman and retired NHL player, is surprised to learn he inherited this crumbling shack from his father. Eager to investigate what brought his adventure-seeking father to New England and why he purchased this rural home before his sudden passing, Dylan heads east and quickly becomes engrossed in both his attractive neighbor and the mystery his father left him in Quabbin Valley. While trying to solve a seventy-year-old puzzle, Dylan and Olivia become fearful that their findings will not only explain Dylan’s unusual inheritance but also reveal a small-town secret that will change the lives of the people of Swift River Valley forever.

Subject Headings: Bed-and-Breakfast, Inheritance and Succession,  Interpersonal Attraction, Jewel Thefts, Men/Women Relations, Secrets, Treasure Hunting, Family Secrets, New England

Appeal: engrossing, gentle, heartwarming, romantic, closely observed characters, multiple points of view, flashbacks, steamy, detailed setting, historical details, straightforward style, conversational language.

Three Appeal Terms: closely observed characters, detailed setting, historical details

Three Fiction Read-Alikes

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Fortier tells the story of Julie Jacobs, a young woman who finds herself pursuing a family treasure upon receiving a surprising inheritance. Set in scenic Italy, readers who enjoyed Neggers’ element of mystery in a detailed setting will appreciate the descriptive landscape and Julie’s suspenseful mission.

Moving Target by Elizabeth Lowell

Lowell’s romantic suspense novel follows Serena Charters as she tries to piece together a mysterious inheritance she received upon her grandmother’s shocking passing. During her quest for information, Serena seeks the help of Erik North, a writer/historian, to whom she is instantly attracted. Fans of Secrets of the Lost Summer will enjoy the mysterious, historical inheritance plot entwined in a love story.

The Treasure by Iris Johansen

Like Neggers, Johansen writes engrossing love stories that appeal to those looking for a suspenseful read. The Treasure takes place in 12th century Europe and follows the story of Selene, a young woman who falls in love with a former assassin who rescued her from slavery. Readers who enjoyed the historical references and fast-paced storyline of Secrets of the Lost Summer will appreciate this read.

Three Nonfiction Read-Alikes

The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor by Jerry Traunfeld

Along with her vivid descriptions of New England countryside in Secrets of the Lost Summer, Neggers also describes Olivia’s charming garden and farm-to-table cooking in great detail. Readers are provided with rich descriptions of Olivia’s obsession with freshly grown herbs, an element of this love story that may particularly engage readers with a gardening or cooking interest. For those who share Neggers’ fascination with herb gardens, The Herbal Kitchen cookbook is a strong nonfiction suggestion. Readers may enjoy applying Olivia’s cooking experiences to their own lives.

Quabbin Valley: People and Places by Elizabeth Peirce

This collection of vintage photographs depicts the lives of the people of Quabbin Valley from 1750 to 1938, when the land was purposefully flooded to create a steady water supply for Boston natives. Neggers discusses this historical moment and the affect it had on Quabbin residents in great detail. Readers who seek a visual representation of Neggers prose will enjoy this title.

Quabbin: A History and Explorers Guide by Michael Tougias

In the spirit of Dylan’s father’s love for adventure and treasure-hunting, Quabbin: A History and Explorers Guide makes for great additional reading for those who were taken with Neggers’ description of the New England landscape and its evolution since 1938. This title provides readers with a brief history of the valley as well as tips for those that may want to explore the area themselves.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

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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.

The Alchemist

August 13, 2012

Author: Paulo Coehlo; audiobook narrated by Jeremy Irons

Title: The Alchemist

Genre: Inspirational; Spiritual Fiction; Literary Fiction; Fables

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 177

Geographical Setting: Spain; Egypt

Time Period: Not specified

Series: Not applicable

Plot Summary: Santiago’s reoccurring dream leads him on a quest to Egypt to find treasure and to also discover his personal legend or destiny. Along his journey, Santiago’s commitment to his personal legend is tested on multiple occasions, but he continues to keep choosing his quest. The Alchemist becomes Santiago’s guide through the dessert and his teacher about how to follow his heart and his dreams in the hope that, unlike so many people, Santiago will fulfill his destiny. This is a philosophical and spiritual journey for Santiago and his readers. The Alchemist is a thought-provoking and powerful novel that will cause you to question how your life and actions can impact and change yours and other peoples lives. This book will draw literary fiction, inspirational, and folk tale readers and undoubtedly, will cause all who read it to feel inspired to seek out their own personal legends.

Subject Headings: Alchemists — Fiction. Shepherds — Spain — Andalusia — Fiction. Andalusia (Spain) — Fiction. Fables.

Appeal: mystical, character-centered, gentle, thought-provoking, exotic, detailed setting, literary, thoughtful, lyrical

3 terms that best describes this book: relaxed, philosophical, inspiring

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz.

Don Miguel Ruiz discusses and explicates the paths and steps to take to personal freedom, peace, and unconditional love. A great read-a-like for readers who were inspired by themes in The Alchemist of filling your life with love and peace that will help readers know spiritual enlightenment.

The Awakening Course: the Secret to Solving All Problems, Joe Vitale

This book offers a step-by-step approach to changing your personal and professional transcendence. A thought-provoking, spiritual transformation that will help readers of The Alchemist be able to take their own inspirational journey to help achieve their lives goals.

Andalusia, Eliane Faure

 Andalusia is an illustrated guide to this part of Spain. This book offers a visual understanding to one of the exotic landscape of The Alchemist. You can explore Andalusia customs, the landscape, the major regions, and more.

 3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse.

Brahmin or Siddhartha abandons his aristocratic life to embark on a spiritual journey to better understand Indian spirituality. Siddhartha is another inspirational, mystical, though-provoking piece of literary fiction for the reader who enjoys spiritual journeys like in The Alchemist.

The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

After Eddie dies in a tragic accident, Eddie reflects upon his life in heaven feeling that his life was uninspired, but five people he knew in life explains the meaning of his life.  The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven is an inspiring, philosophical tale about appreciating and realizing ones purpose in life.

The Tale of the Unknown Island, Jose Saramago

A philosophical fable about a man who knocks on a king’s petitioner’s door to ask him for a boat to use on his voyage. Like the king, the man sparks curiosity and desire in the reader to find out where it is he is journeying too. The Tale of the Unknown Island is a spiritual journey similar to The Alchemist in the sense that both stories are character centered, literary, and inspires readers to explore their relationship to the world.

Name: Alison Kulczak

For One More Day

August 13, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: For One More Day

 Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 197 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This is an inspirational story about Charley “Chick” Benetto, a broken man on the verge of suicide. Chick was a child of divorce forced to choose between his mother and his father. Soon after choosing his father, Chick gets abandoned and bitterly returns to his mother. After her death, a grief-stricken Chick forms a family of his own, but later loses his job, becomes regretful, depressed, alcoholic and eventually lonely and isolated. His daughter’s rejection triggers a suicide attempt that unexpectedly takes him to an ordinary day at his childhood home where he gets a second chance to spend time with his lost mother. During that day Chick learns family secrets, seeks forgiveness, discovers her mother’s self-sacrifices, and regains awareness of the destructive path in his life. Inspired by his mother’s loving guidance he decides to make a change a try to put his life back together.

Subject Headings: Personal Transformations; Loneliness in men; Alcoholics; Nervous breakdown; Mother and adult son; Ghosts; Single mothers; Divorced women; Mothers – Death; Men — Suicidal behavior; Depression in men; Grief in men; Ambition in men; Coping in men.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, gentle, family-centered, homespun style, haunting, hopeful, psychological, moving, nostalgic, dramatic, inspiring, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Family-centered, nostalgic, moving.

***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. In this story, wealthy middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak has mastered isolation by choice. Two incidents force him to reconnect with his family and establish new relationships. Just like For One More Day, this story is psychological and centers on relationships and personal transformation.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. The narrator of this story finds himself in a peculiar abandoned amusement park per her dying fiancé’s request. Guided by a wise groundskeeper, the narrator embarks in a profound psychological journey to self-discovery. This is also an inspirational novel emphasizing past memories, self awareness, and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Blame by Michelle Huneven. Patsy MacLemoore is a young, smart and wild history professor that wakes up once again in jail, this time after running over and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway. She spends several years in jail sobering up, trying to atone for her misdeed until new information turns up to change and bring a different light on her life. Besides its psychological nature, this novel shares Albom’s subjects of alcoholism, guilt and regret, and rebuilding a life.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

           The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In this auto-biographical account computer science professor Pausch thoughtfully reflects about his experience as a terminally ill cancer patient. This is an inspiring choice for readers looking for real life stories of lessons learned, spirituality, family and relationship in adversity, and the pursue of dreams.

           Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life by James Van Praagh. Written by medium James Van Praagh, this book provides thought-provoking information, theories and stories about ghosts and spirits and their experience and relationships with their living loved ones. Chick’s encounter with his lost mother is sometimes described as other-worldly, this may interest those curious about hopeful ghostly messages about healing.

           Living Through the Meantime: Learning to Break the Patterns of the Past and Begin the Healing Process by Iyanla Vanzant. The author describes a “meantime” concept generally fueled by past experiences that tends in cases cause confusion, anger, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, apprehensiveness, etc. For those considering self-help options to heal and get their life back together.

Fanny Camargo

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  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

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith, Performed by Lisette Lecat

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: Book published 1998, Book on CD 2003

Number of Pages: Book -235, Book on CD – 8.25 hours on 7 discs

Geographical Setting: Botswana

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  First in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Plot Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a rather large middle-aged woman, living in Gabarone, Botswana in 1998. Escaping an abusive marriage, she returns to care for her ailing father. When her beloved Daddy dies, she is left to consider her prospects. Using the money left to her by her father, and inspired by Agatha Christie, Precious Ramotswe opens the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – the first of its kind in all of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe, as she is called, proves adept at helping “people with the problems in their lives” such as finding stray husbands, exposing a con man, and discreetly following a strong-willed daughter. The vignettes are told with a quiet dignity but with humor and sincerity. The writing is very descriptive complementing the easy pace of the story. The narrator is a native of South Africa and adds a rich and lyrical voice to the narrative, providing not only correct pronunciation of the many native words, but also adding a lovely atmosphere to the stories.

Subject Headings: Private investigators – Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings, Ramotswe, Precious (fictitious character) – Fiction – Sound Recordings, Missing children – Fiction – Sound recordings, Swindlers and swindling – Fiction – Sound recordings, Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings

Appeal: Leisurely-paced, comfortable, gentle, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, character-driven, engaging, episodic, family-centered, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting, strong sense of place, accessible, natural and unaffected language, unpretentious  

3 terms that best describe this book: Comfortable, Humorous, Unpretentious

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Beaton, M. C. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; A cozy mystery filled with delightful characters living in the Cotswolds, this narrative presents an amusing and enjoyable fast-paced story. First in the Agatha Raisin series.

Drayson, Nicholas. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa; A gentle and delightful book that tells the story of a retired gentleman who is vying for the attention of a woman who appears to be out of his league; but all is not as it seems. The lovely descriptions of the Kenyan landscape frames the quiet and richly detailed narrative.

Farahad, Zama. Marriage Bureau for Rich People; This affectionate story tells of a retired Indian man who has a knack for matchmaking and opens a marriage arrangement office in southern India. Containing humor and optimism, this book is full of amusing characters and gentle stories in an exotic setting.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Randall, Will. Botswana Time; Using vivid descriptions, this personal account of life in rural Botswana gives the reader an insightful and engaging look at the culture and success of this African nation.

Summerscale, Kate. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective; Scotland Yard Detective Jack Whicher is called to unravel the mystery of the murder of a three year old boy in 1860 England. Tireless research and a compelling account by the author drives the reader forward in the investigation of this heinous crime.

Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: An English Mystery; Having unprecedented access to Christie’s letters and journals and using a conversational writing style, the author presents a detailed and interesting account of the life and works of Agatha Christie.

Name: Patty Daniel

Many a River

July 16, 2012

Author:  Elmer Kelton

Title: Many a River

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  Texas and New Mexico

Time Period:  Civil War era

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  The story of the Barfield brothers, who are small children traveling west when Comanche Indians attack their family and kill their parents.  Todd is taken by the Indians and sold, while Jeffrey manages to hide and is eventually picked up by some traveling militiamen and given a home.  The book follows the lives of each boy through adolescence as they get caught up in the drama of the Civil War in the Southwest.

Subject Headings:  Civil War period, Brothers, Indians of North America, Comanche Indians, Comanche Indians- Captivities, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Civil War, Coming-of-Age Stories, Western Stories

Appeal:  Densely written, detailed characterization, multiple points of view, complex story line, episodic, gentle, detailed setting, historical details, candid, simple, clean, stirring

3 terms that best describe this book: Densely written, Solid historical details, Multiple points of view

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 Manifest Destinies:  America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War– Steven Woodworth

A history of the 1840s, Manifest Destinies discusses how the acquisition of western territories forced the nation to come to grips with the approaching Civil War.

Rebel Private:  Front and Rear:  Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier– William A Fletcher

This surviving journal of a Confederate footsoldier details what life was really life in the trenches of the Civil War.  This memoir is a true-life version of Todd and Jeffrey’s time with the soldiers during the Civil War.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History– S.C. Gwynne

This book is the story of the Comanche Indians, and their battle with the American settlers for control of the West.  Would be a good choice for readers interested in the tribe that attacked the Barfields and kidnapped Todd.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Telegraph Days– Larry McMurtry

The story of two siblings orphaned by their father’s suicide who must move from their prosperous ranch to the nearby town and start new lives.  Telegraph Days is another descriptive Western story about siblings starting over after tragedy.

Runaways– Andrew Fenady

Fleeing the devastation of the Civil War, Shad Parker shuts himself away on his farm in Texas. The arrival of three orphans during Christmas week of 1867 gives him something to live for.  This inspiring novel features the same type of happy ending for young orphans in the West.

The Shadow of a Noose– Ralph Compton

Young twins Jed and Tim Strange set out to find their sister, who left home to avenge their father’s murder over a year ago. But when they’re accused of a murder they didn’t commit, they must go on the run to find the true killers.  This is another descriptive, atmospheric Western tale like Many a River.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

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.

Tuesdays with Morrie

April 11, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 192

Geographical Setting: United Stated (Detroit and Boston)

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  Mitch Albom is a sports journalist in Detroit. He coincidentally catches a glimpse of his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, while watching TV and learns that he is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Having made a promise 16 years ago to keep in touch, he finally goes to visit him. Through his visits with Morrie every Tuesday, whom he calls coach, he begins his final lesson in life. He puts everything on hold as he begins to organize his own life first. This book is very deep and moving, full of inspiration and many thought provoking subjects. It’s a book that will leave everyone in tears from beginning to end.

Subject Headings: Schwartz, Morrie S.
Brandeis University Faculty Biography.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Patients United States Biography.
Teacher-student relationships United States Case studies.
Death Psychological aspects Case studies. Life lesson.

Appeal: fast-paced, passionate, gentle, heartwarming, moving, philosophical, inspiring, sympathetic, intimate, thought-provoking, deep, enlightening, and conclusive

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  moving, inspirational, and heartwarming

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Pausch, Randy and Jeffrey Zaslow – The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who was disagnosed with terminal cancer and he decides to give a last lesson about living)

Callanan, Maggie – Final Gifts: understanding the special awareness, needs, and communications of the dying (Story of two nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, sharing their intimate experience of tending to terminally ill patients)

Canfield, Jack, et al. – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales: 101 Inspirational stories from great teachers and appreciative students (Stories from both students and teachers with their memories and lessons in and out of school)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Coelho, Paulo – The Alchemist (A journey by a shepherd boy name Santiago. He travels from Spain to Egypt and teaches the readers about the wisdom of listening to our hearts as he reads the omens and teaches us to follow our dreams)

Hesse, Hermann – The Journey to the East (A journey of a man in search of enlightenment while struggling with spiritualism)

Gaines, Ernest J. – A Lesson Before Dying (Jefferson was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. There, he is visited by a teacher names Grant Wiggins. Through the visits, both men rediscover themselves.)

Name: Jun Yoon

True Believer

April 4, 2012

Author: Nicolas Sparks

Title: True Believer

Genre: Gentle Read

Publication Date: April 2005

Number of Pages: 322

Geographical Setting: Boone Creek, North Carolina

Time Period: Present

Series: Sequel: At first sight

Plot Summary: New Yorker Jeremy Marsh finds himself in Boone Creek, North Carolina to write a story about a cemetery haunted by ghosts. Marsh is a science writer who has made a name for himself by disproving psychic and paranormal phenomena. In Boone Creek he meets the beautiful but guarded town librarian Lexie whom he quickly finds himself drawn to. The leisurely novel creates a character-centered, heartwarming story that explores opposites attracting despite all odds.

Subject Headings: Men/women relations, Skeptics, Belief and doubt, Journalists, Librarians, Women psychics, Ghosts, Paranormal phenomena, Small town life-North Carolina

Appeal: heartwarming, homespun, bittersweet, conversational, easy, relaxed pace, nostalgic, character-centered, sentimental, rural, gentle

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, character-centered, homespun

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach.

Readers interested in Jeremy’s investigation of the supposed spirits haunting the cemetery might enjoy this accessible, engaging science writing exploring the possibility of an afterlife. Roach’s ability to make science palatable to the everyday reader is akin to the science writing the protagonist does in True Believer.

Knee High by the Fourth of July: More Stories of Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest, by Jean Tennant.

Readers who enjoyed the detail of small town life in the South and the bittersweet exploration of domestic life may enjoy Tennant’s collection of stories about growing up in small towns in the Midwest. The stories are heartwarming and nostalgic, featuring a wide variety of tones.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

Marsh is a New Yorker who has some culture shock to adjust to when he travels to Boone Creek, North Carolina. This true story follows a gay couple as they decide to integrate themselves into the country despite their urban background. Humorous but poignant, the couple ends up overcoming the odds to create a successful farm business.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Call Me Irresistible, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Phillips’s book is another tale of an outsider finding unexpected love. Protagonist Meg is stuck in a hostile, small town in Texas after disrupting her best friend’s wedding when she finds the man of her dreams. Readers who do not mind a more humorous take on a similar plot might enjoy Call Me Irresistible.

The Sunflower, by Richard Paul Evans

After her fiancé calls off the marriage a week before their wedding, Christine decides to volunteer in Peru where she meets an American doctor. Heartwarming and hopeful, Christine’s journey is similar in Lexie’s as she most overcome old wounds to give a new love a chance.

Finding the Way Home, by Sarah Byrd

Byrd’s book is another heartwarming tale of a character picking up and moving to a village setting and finding love and redemption in the process of interacting with a few different secondary characters. Fans of the gentle romance in True Believer may appreciate the more inspirational love story presented in Finding the Way Home.