Posts Tagged ‘Haunting’

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

November 28, 2012

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse book coverTitle: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

Author: Erdrich, Louise

Publication Date: 2001

Pages: 361

Geographical Setting: Ojibwe Reservation, North Dakota

Time Period: Present Day

Genre: Literary Fiction, Native American Fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  In the last days of his life, Father Damien Modeste sets out to make a final confession to the Holy Father, the Pope in Rome.  The least of these confessions is that Father Damien is actually Agnes DeWitt, a woman.  When a young priest comes to the remote Ojibwe reservation of Little No Horse to interview him about the possible sainthood of a nun from the reservation convent, Fr. Damien sees an opportunity to lay bare the truth about his past, the woman in question, and the people whom he has shepherded and loved for the better part of eighty years.  Told through multiple perspectives and dipping into different moments in time, the story unfolds slowly and poetically, the first pages building links to the later scenes of Fr. Damien’s life.  The people of Little No Horse may be familiar to readers of Erdrich’s other works, as this novel is one in a sequence of tales about the Kashpaws, Nanpushes, Pillagers, Morrisseys, and Lazarres who make up this Ojibwe tribe.  But the perspective of Agnes/Fr. Damien, the outsider who layers Catholic dogma with the old spirituality, pushes this story beyond the reservation and across cultural barriers.

Appeal Characteristics: Intricately plotted, moving, stylistically complex, lyrical, mystical, leisurely paced, haunting, spiritual, details of Catholicism, details of reservation life, elegantly written, poignant, reflective, reverent, elegiac, vivid characterization, poetic

Subject Headings: Ojibwe Indians, North Dakota, Indians of North America, Reservations, Priests, Male Impersonators, Miracles, Women Saints

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Moving, lyrical, spiritual

Similar Non-fiction:

Rez Life by David Treuer

Written by a member of the Minnesota Ojibwe tribe, this book offers a part memoir, part cultural history look at life on a reservation.  Treuer explores the life of present-day Native Americans as it has been shaped by decisions made long ago.  Politics, alcoholism, casinos, and tragedy are balanced by lesser known facets of Native American culture—walleye fishing, wild rice harvesting, Ojibwe language lessons—creating a narrative of sadness and beauty that characterizes contemporary rez life.

The American Jesuits: A History by Raymond A. Schroth

Schroth offers a comprehensive historical account of the order of priests who, more than anyone else, have brought America to Christ.  Beginning with the first, unfortunately murdered, Jesuit to touch the New World, Schroth details a 450 year history of serving the disenfranchised and the poor, building schools and universities, and making very public stands for social justice.  They are not always perfect, but for those who admire Father Damien in spite of his flaws may find more of the same here.

Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back Again by Norah Vincent

Agnes’s transformation to Father Damien is an integral part of Erdrich’s novel.  The reservation’s remoteness and the acceptance of the Native people made this easier.  In this book Norah Vincent makes her transformation in the thick of society.  In the guise of Ned, a somewhat nerdy salesman complete with crewcut and ever-present five o’clock shadow, Vincent lived for more than a year as a man, infiltrating and living every aspect of male-ness from the sacred to the profane providing an in-depth look at what is expected of male behavior and how women and men are truly different.

Similar Fiction:

The House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende

Similar to Erdrich, Allende writes a generational saga of a family and a people who suffer from the decisions made far in the past.  The Trueba family live in an unnamed Latin American country crippled by political upheaval.  Though less overtly spiritual than Erdrich, readers will find mystical undercurrents and cultural conflicts that color the portrait of this family.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

Another sweeping family portrait, this time of a Mexican American family, Caramelo is the story of Lala Reyes as she grows through the revelations of family stories and histories.  The interconnectedness of seemingly different narratives is reminiscent of Erdrich’s storytelling, as are the shared tragedies and raptures that have brought the family, and specifically Lala, to the place they are today.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

A set of short stories told from the inhabitants of the Spokane Indian Reservation, this is a complex picture of contemporary Native American life that juxtaposes the trappings of modern culture with the traditions of a proud, ancient, and crumbling people.

Name: Jessica

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Night

November 28, 2012

Author: Elie Wiesel
Title: Night
Genre: Memoir
Publication: 2006
Number of Pages: 120 pages
Geographical Setting: Europe- Germany
Time Period: 1933-1945
Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

Wiesel writes what seems to be his own autobiography through the eyes of the narrator -Eliezer.  We get a first person narrative of events of the holocaust as Elies takes us through the Nazis invasion of Hungary in 1944.  To the rude awakening of the Jews, a lot of oppressive and stringent laws are created to oppress the Jews forcing them into the ghettos. From then, there are imposed restrictions and eventual massive deportation of the Jews as prisoners by cattle cars to Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.   On getting to camp, Elie is separated from his father during “selection”. From then on we get a detailed  account of the horror, hardship and inhumanity as suffered by Elie Wiesel and his family and the rest of the Jews. Babies are burned in the ditch, hundreds of Jews burned in the crematoria. Prisoners are stripped naked and exposed to extreme weather condition, most people die from malnutrition and disease.

In the end, we see a broken down man, his spirits crushed which causes him to question his faith in God and in his fellow men.
A gut wrenching read, will appeal to those curious about the holocaust.

Subject Headings:
God (Judaism), Wiesel,  Elie, 1928, Birkenau Extermination Camp, Auschwitz (Concentration Camp), Jewish teenage boys, Holocaust survivors, Belief and doubt, Loss, Holocaust, Jewish (1933-1945) – Personal narratives

Three Appeal Terms:
Moving, Disturbing, Gruesome

Appeal:
Reflective, Moody, Haunting, Menacing, Disturbing, Bleak, Gut wrenching, Engaging, Thoughtful, Descriptive, Compelling, Candid

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gratitude by Kertes, Joseph

Another gripping account of the events of the holocaust, but this time the story is based in Hungary.  We learn more about the atrocities committed against the Jews but with a different story line and complex plot twists than the Night.  Will make a great read for those yearning for more holocaust stories.

Schindler’s list by Keneally, Thomas
Schindler’s story is retold by Keneally about his life how he – Schindler a German saved more than a thousand Jews working for him during the holocaust. For those interested in the events of the holocaust, this books brings a different perspective judging from Schindler’s  acts of goodwill.

The jade peony by Choy,  Wayson

A poignant tale of the recollections of an immigrant Chinese family in Chinatown – Vancouver before and during World War II.  The story is told from the eyes of the three young children about the difficulties, sorrows and loss they felt while growing up.  This is another alternative for readers interested in the theme of persecution, suffering and survival as in Night.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

The diary of a young girl: the definitive edition by Anne Frank
This book chronicles the personal experiences of Anne Frank and her family as they hide from place to place during the holocaust.  A more convincing account of the reality of the holocaust for those doubtful of the Night.

Maus: a survivor’s tale by Spiegelman, Art
Portrayed in a Graphic format, the author tells the story of his family’s experiences during the holocaust.  How they bounced from place to place, their hardship and survival.  Using animals in this format is a creative and effective way to depict such sorrowful events and will appeal to readers who love Graphic novels.

Holocaust: the events and their impact on real people by Wood, Angela
Find a collection of true stories of children who experienced first hand events of the holocaust.  Not only do we find each harrowing and gripping account of the suffering during this period, but we see  detailed analysis of events  leading up to this sadism and cruelty.  Great history collection.

The Haunting of Hill House

October 31, 2012

Author: Shirley Jackson

Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Genre: Horror, Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 1959

Number of Pages: 182

Geographical Setting: Hillshire, Undisclosed probably Eastern United States location

Time Period: Late 1950s

Plot Summary: When Eleanor receives a letter from a doctor inviting her to stay in a beautiful country mansion for the summer, she jumps at her chance to finally get away from her mundane life. Yet even as she approaches the house she can tell that something is off kilter. After meeting her companions for the stay at Hill House, Dr. Montague tells his fateful crew the haunting past of the mansion and its inhabitants. The longer they stay, the more terrifying their time becomes, until finally things spiral out of control. This is easily one of the most terrifying books I have ever read, and a sense of impending doom permeates from the first page.  If you want to be haunted, this is the book for you.

Subject Headings: Haunted Houses, Ghosts, Interpersonal Relationships, Occult, Poltergeists, Paranormal Phenomenon, Loners, Single Women,

Appeal: Atmospheric, Chilling, Moody, Creepy, Menacing, Macabre, Suspenseful, Builds in intensity, Haunting, Menacing, Psychological, Dark, Dangerous, Elegant Writing Style,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Chilling, Atmospheric, Haunting

Similar fiction authors and works:

Hill, Susan. The Woman in Black

Sitting around the fire on Christmas Eve, a family begins to tell ghost stories. As they take turns, one family member recalls a true event of terrifying trauma experienced in his twenties of a visit to an English countryside estate and the horrifying events that passed there. A gothic and creepy tale written in beautiful prose, this story is sure to chill your bones.

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw

When a new governess is hired to take care of two children on an old country estate, life seems peaceful. However, this peace is short lived as evil spirits of passed on servants begin to torment the new governess. This story has a similar atmospheric and creepy tone, and pushes the question of sanity as the haunting become increasingly terrifying.

Reardon, Joyce. The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red

Written as a journal kept by a young wife, this novel tells the story of Ellen Rimbauer’s life in the haunted mansion Rose Red. The longer she stays living in the house, the more horrible events come to pass, and all are recorded in the diary that is so dear to her. Another creepy and atmospheric read about a terrifying house, this is sure to be a great read!

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. I’m Looking For You: Growing Up Haunted

An autobiographical story of Boylan’s life growing up in a haunted house, this story tells of several instances where ghosts and apparitions made an appearance in the Pennsylvania house she grew up in. While this is a ghost story, it also examines interpersonal relationships and the life of someone who feels to be more of an outsider.

Rule, Leslie. Ghosts in the Mirror: real cases of spirit encounters

This collection of true ghost stories is sure to haunt you! This collection of more than a dozen true ghost stories has been painstakingly researched and collected over many years. The variety of encounters, from haunted houses to ghostly travelers, is sure to chill anyone looking for some true to life paranormal tales.

Williams, Dorah L. Haunted: the incredible true story of a Canadian Family’s experience living in a haunted house

The title pretty much sums up what this book is about: a Canadian family who inhabits a haunted house. The story is chilling and the fact that it is supposedly true makes it all the more terrifying.

Heart-Shaped Box

October 31, 2012

Heart-Shaped Box Book CoverTitle: Heart-Shaped Box

Author: Hill, Joe

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: New York, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Plot Summary:  In this chilling tale that should be read with all the lights on, aging rock star Judas Coyne is no longer touring and releasing album. Instead he spends his time dating Goth chicks, such as his current lady Georgia, and expanding his bizarre, macabre collection of artifacts including a witch’s confession and a snuff film.  So when his assistant Danny mentions an auction for the suit of a dead man that comes with a ghost, Judas is hooked and must have it.  But when the suit arrives, danger and chilling nightmares enter Judas’ life.  He begins to see the dead man everywhere swinging a deadly razor from a chain or rocking in a Shaker chair.  Judas cannot escape the ghost’s hypnotizing presence or the haunting words about taking “a ride on the nightroad.”  It turns out the ghost has a link to Judas’ past and it is out for revenge of the deadliest kind.  As the terror and sense of dread builds, Judas and Georgia are eventually forced to hit the road to face their pasts and solve the mystery surrounding the dead man to avoid the dreaded “nightroad.”  Winner of the Bram Stoker Award, it is a horror novel reminiscent of your favorite classic ghost stories but with a contemporary feel.  You will be wary with each turn of the page as the uneasy, menacing atmosphere builds throughout the story until its satisfying conclusion.  This is a great novel for both newcomers and seasoned veterans of the horror genre, and will have you rooting for its flawed, compelling characters to triumph over evil.

Subject Headings: Ghost stories, Rock Musicians, Suspense Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal Phenomena, Apparitions, Men/Women Relations, Life after death

Appeal:  builds in intensity, atmospheric, chilling, suspenseful, menacing atmosphere, flawed characters, plot twists, well-crafted, uneasy mood, character-driven, creepy, dangerous, haunting, macabre, sense of dread, compelling, violent, engaging characters, foreboding, vivid storyline, descriptive

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Creepy, Flawed Characters, Suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Horror fans and novices can enjoy this classic collection of ghostly stories from a pioneer of the genre.  Here are 16 classic tales to chill the bones and haunt your dreams, and are just as menacing and creepy as The Heart-Shaped Box.

Christine by Stephen King

Go from haunted suit to a haunted car with this classic novel by Stephen King. Written by Joe Hill’s father, here is a similarly compelling and suspenseful horror novel where teen Arnie Cunningham falls in love with a 1958 Plymouth car dubbed “Christine.”  This car is not as simple as it seems, and it starts to haunt and endanger Arnie as well as those around him.  With Christine, you can get to know the work of Stephen King to whom Heart-Shaped Box was dedicated.

Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

A horror story that also has hypnotism and a similar mood, Tom Wallace mockingly agrees to be hypnotized at his brother-in-law’s party.  But when Tom awakens from the hypnotism, he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of those around him.  Even more compelling and terrifying, through this new ability he receives a message from beyond the grave that leads Tom onto a dangerous, creepy path in order to solve the message.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Crap I bought on eBay: 101 Crazy Bizarre, Seriously Weird, Ridiculously Raunchy Items Exposed by Cary McNeal and Beverly L. Jenkins

A great book for those fascinated by the macabre collection of character Judas Coyne.  The book highlights 101 of the craziest things actually bought on eBay by the authors.  Enjoy a mixture of laughter and shock as you browse these real-life items.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil

Get to know the crazy rock n’ roll world of Judas Coyne with this tell-all book about 80’s heavy metal group Motley Crue.  Written by member of the band with the help of music writer Neil Strauss, this book reveals the tours, drugs and alcohol, rock music and sex.  A fun glimpse into a crazy rocker’s world.

Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis by Robin Waterfield

Hypnosis was featured throughout the novel, and with this book you can become more familiar with it.  You will get to know the history, practice and modern uses of this controversial field.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Kabuki: Circle of Blood (Volume 1) by David Mack

October 24, 2012

Author: David Mack

Title: Kabuki: Circle of Blood (Volume 1)

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: unpaged

Geographical Setting: Japan

Time Period: The near future

Plot Summary:  This book is an award winning graphic novel series. Ukiko, known as Kabuki, was the child of a woman who was known as a “comfort woman”. Comfort women entertained the Japanese soldiers during World War II. This woman was raped and beaten by her fiancée’s son, only to die during childbirth. The man who was supposed to marry her mother raised Ukiko to become a master at martial arts and an assassin. Kabuki was no ordinary assassin, she was a member of the Noh, a secret government agency that was assembled to fight organized crime and corporate feudalism. This book can be found in the juvenile section as a Young Adult book, yet it really should be rated “R” for sex and violence. Its moments of Japanese culture, poetry, literary allusions, and philosophy will be appreciated by an adult audience, but not necessarily understood by children.

Subject Headings: Japan, Organized Crime, Politics, Assassins

Appeal terms:  fast-paced, action-oriented, explicitly violent, flashbacks, historical details, political, poetic, explicit sex, emotionally charged, dramatic, haunting, dangerous

Three appeal terms: action-oriented, explicitly violent, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction-

Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui- This book is about fighting corporate corruption in Japan, but is more focused on Mind Control technology than Kabuki is.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden- This novel shares elements with Kabuki that relate to the culture behind “comfort women” in Japan.

I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason- This is a graphic novel about a time traveler’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Non-Fiction-

The Art of War by Sun Tzu- This is a Chinese, philosophical collection of essays about war, which relates to some of the philosophical elements in Kabuki.

Comfort Women by Yoshiaki Yoshimi- This is a book about the “comfort women” that were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military during World War II.

Kabuki by Masakatsu Gunji- This book is about the history and origin of the Japanese theatrical style, Kabuki. The graphic novel references Kabuki and Noh throughout the book.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Her Fearful Symmetry

October 17, 2012

her fearful symmetry book cover
Author: Audrey Neffenegger

Title: Her Fearful Symmetry

Genre: Literary Fiction, Ghost stories

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 401

Geographical Setting: Lake Forest, IL and London, England

Plot Summary: Twin sisters Julia and Valentina Poole reside in the suburbs of Chicago, where they lead rather unexciting lives and have little interest in anything aside from their extremely close attachment to each other. One day, the girls find out that their mother’s twin sister in London has passed away and left her apartment to the twins. Julia and Valentina take up residence in their deceased aunt Elspeth’s London flat, where they are introduced to the other residents in the building. Among them are Elspeth’s lover Robert, who works at the neighboring Highgate Cemetery, and Martin, who suffers from a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Tension mounts as the twins develop new relationships and begin to find separate identities, and an unexpected family member shows up that could tear them apart forever.

Subject Headings: Sisters — Fiction. London (England) — Fiction. Spiritual life – Fiction. Psychological fiction. Ghost stories.

Appeal: Chilling, builds in intensity, compelling, atmospheric, plot twists, descriptive, literary, haunting, character-centered, lyrical, multiple points of view, detailed setting, psychological

Three appeal terms: Haunting, lyrical, atmospheric

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Housekeeping shares many of the same appeal terms as Her Fearful Symmetry, including an intricate plot centered on characters and family relationships. It is leisurely paced, lyrical, and includes the haunting ghost story element. The book focuses on two sisters Ruth and Lucille and their relationship with each other and other family members. The girls struggle to grow up amidst memories of a family past that they can’t escape in their small hometown.

A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne
Readers who enjoyed the storyline revolving around twins in Her Fearful Symmetry, as well as the London setting, might enjoy A Dark Dividing, another character driven, atmospheric read with an intricate plot. A Dark Dividing features a girl named Simone Anderson, whose twin sister disappeared long ago. Simone has a connection to another pair of twins that were born almost a century earlier, but what is that connection? Journalist Harry Flitzglen is in love with Simone and is determined to solve these mysteries. Curiosity leads him to a ruined mansion known as Mortmain House, where he finds himself immersed in a series of even greater mysteries and a disturbing history he could never have imagined.

Ghost Walk by Heather Graham
Those who are in the mood for a fun ghost story interwoven with suspense and romance would like Ghost Walk by Heather Graham. Nikki DuMonde is having a great time running a New Orleans haunted-tour company when a ghost begins reaching out to her for help. Nikki pairs up with paranormal investigator Brent Blackhawk to find out what this ghost wants…before it’s too late.

Coastliners by Joanne Harris
Like Her Fearful Symmetry, Coastliners also deals with women uncovering family secrets and developing their own identity. Mado returns home to her small island hometown after 10 years in Paris to reconcile with her estranged father. When she comes home, however, she is met with family secrets, village feuds, and the urgent need to save the town’s quickly eroding beach. This book has a strong focus on family relationships with a haunting feel and some paranormal elements thrown into the mix.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla by Felix Barker
In Her Fearful Symmetry, readers are exposed to some of the history of London’s Highgate Cemetery, which may leave them wanting to learn more about this fascinating landmark. Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla is a great resource for information as it provides a rare, illustrated history of the cemetery.

Identical strangers: a memoir of twins separated and reunited by Elyse Schein
Readers who liked the twin storyline in Her Fearful Symmetry may like this true story about a woman named Elyse who goes on a search for her biological mother and ends up discovering that she has an identical twin sister. When she finally connects with her twin, Paula, the two investigate their past and fill in the missing pieces of their lives. The story is interwoven with details on twin studies and statistics to make for both an informative and touching read.

Ghosts among us: uncovering the truth about the other side by James Van Praagh
Those who dig the paranormal ghost elements in Her Fearful Symmetry can find more information about ghosts in this non-fiction book. The author includes true ghost stories and evidence that ghosts are active in our everyday lives. Believers in ghosts will enjoy uncovering the truth about perceptions of spiritual life and how to have a better understanding of what happens on the other side.

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

Man in the Picture

August 1, 2012

Author: Hill, Susan

Title: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 160 p.

Geographical Setting: Cambridge, England and Venice, Italy

Time Period: Unspecified, but likely in the 1900s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This fast-paced, old-fashioned ghost story begins with the narrator, Oliver, visiting his old tutor, Theo Parmitter, at Cambridge on a cold winter night.  While the two friends have had many conversations over the years, Theo chooses this night to tell Oliver the tale of his acquisition of an 18th century painting of Venetian revelers.  While his story starts as a regular trip to an art auction, it soon becomes evident that the painting is more than meets the eye.  As Theo tells Oliver the story of Lady Hawdon and the full history of love, revenge, and death behind the painting, the present starts to mirror the past in dangerous and mysterious ways.  Can Theo and Oliver escape the curse of the painting before it’s too late?  The novel alternates between the points of view of Oliver, Theo, Lady Hawdon, and Oliver’s fiancée, Anne.  Susan Hill uses concise chapters and descriptions to create an atmospheric, eerie, chilling, and suspenseful story of a painting that may be more real and powerful than anyone can imagine.

Subject Headings: Spirits; Carnival; Auctions; Wedding Presents; Portraits; Revenge; Universities and Colleges—England— Cambridge; Cambridge, England; Venice, Italy; Suspense Stories; Horror Stories; Ghost Stories;

Appeal: fast-paced, atmospheric, chilling, creepy, dangerous, darker, disturbing, foreboding, haunting, menacing, mysterious, nightmare, suspenseful, familiar intelligent characters, quirky and dangerous secondary characters, cinematic, layered, plot twists, tragic, atmospheric gothic setting, classic language, concise, dramatic, polished, restrained, vivid

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: mysterious, atmospheric, haunting

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Lore of the Ghost: The Origins of the Most Famous Ghost Stories Throughout the World by Brian Haughton and illustrated by Daniele Serra is a thought-provoking and vivid book about the history of ghost stories and an analysis of people’s fascination with the supernatural.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this haunting book focuses on the subject of spirits and old-fashioned gothic ghost stories.

Haunted England: Royal Spirits, Castle Ghosts, Phantom Coaches, and Wailing Ghouls by Terence Whitaker is an eerie book about various hauntings throughout England’s history.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this creepy book highlights the subjects of spirits and ghost stories in the same setting of England.

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti is a fascinating book about the disappearance and return of one of the most famous portraits of all time.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book tells a mysterious and suspenseful story about a portrait

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a classic horror story about a woman, Mrs. Maxim de Winter, moving into the eerie home of her new husband, where the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, constantly reminds the new Mrs. Maxim de Winter of how inferior she is to the deceased first wife, Rebecca.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this well-written book with plot twists focuses on an atmospheric and haunting story in England about disturbed women as secondary characters who cannot cope with past events and attempt to destroy other women’s lives as a result.

The Uninvited by John Farris is a suspenseful ghost story about a woman, Barry Brennan, who finds a man one day who may or may not be real as she mourns the death of her boyfriend.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book tells a fast-paced disturbing ghost story about art, characters who cannot forget tragic relationships, and how fantasy can become reality.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a gothic horror story about a handsome man who never ages while a portrait of him reflects his moral decline.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book is a horror story with plot twists focused on a haunted portrait with special powers that takes place in England and contains characters who gradually give in to evil activities.

Room

April 18, 2012

Author: Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: September 2010

Number of Pages: 321

Geographical Setting: Presumably Canada

Time Period: Present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Five-year-old narrator Jack has spent his entire life in a garden shed turned prison with his Ma. His narrations reveal to the reader that his mother has been held captive by a sociopath known only as Old Nick by Jack. Additionally, Ma made the decision to spare Jack the heartbreak of truly understanding their situation by telling him the Room is essentially the universe and that everything he sees on their television is fiction. The haunting, disturbing novel is irresistible from the start, spurred along by the fast-pace of a child’s narration and the incredible sense of psychological suspense Donoghue creates. About half the book takes place in the Room, until Jack and Ma finally make a daring escape. Rather than ending the story there, Donoghue explores their painful and shocking reintroduction to the outside world. This character-centered novel explores the harrowing but ultimately hopeful experience of Jack and his mother.

Subject Headings: Antisocial personality disorders, Kidnapping, Boys, Mother and child, Women kidnap victims, Compulsive behavior in men

Appeal: fast-paced, suspenseful, engaging, harrowing, disturbing, unsettling, uncomfortable, character-centered, realistic, haunting, refreshing, resolved ending

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: disturbing, compelling, suspenseful

Secrets in the cellar, by John Glatt

Donoghue was inspired to write Room after learning the terrible story of a 73-year-old man found guilty of assaulting and imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, fathering several children with her over the period of time she was trapped in a secret bunker he designed. Harrowing and deeply disturbing, Glatt’s book is the true story of the Fritzl case.

A stolen life: a memoir, by Jaycee Dugard

Readers who are interested in true stories of kidnapping and captivity that also contain an ultimately hopeful tone might like Dugard’s disturbing memoir of being kidnapped at age 11. The gritty, candid story is about Dugard’s imprisonment by a sex offender and her eventually escape after being forced to give birth to two of his children.

Tears of rage: from grieving father to crusader for justice : the untold story of the Adam Walsh case, by John Walsh.

Readers may be interested in learning about the legal side of a tragic ordeal after reading the Room. Walsh’s painful account of the cold legal system that could have done more to save his son will resonate with readers.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald

Readers who are eager to learn how Jack continues to develop may enjoy Grunwald’s historical fiction about a man raised as a practice baby for home economics courses. Henry House feels betrayed by lies about his origins, yet remains emotionally stunted by his unusual upbringing. The book is compelling and thought-provoking.

Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock

Another disturbing tale of abuse and family drama, Flock’s book features an eight-year-old protagonist who details her family’s abuse at the hands of her alcoholic stepfather. More methodically paced, the book is more of a thriller with a startling, violent ending that might appeal to readers who enjoyed Room but felt the book glossed over gritty details of Jack’s captivity and subsequent adjustment to the outside world.

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens

Readers who are interested in learning more about Ma’s ordeal may enjoy Still Missing, a novel exploring the trauma experienced by a woman who is kidnapped and abused at the hands of a sociopathic captor. The book is more gritty and reflective then Room, but also examines the reintroduction of a kidnapping victim into society.

Trumpet

April 11, 2012

Author – Jackie Kay

Title- Trumpet

Genre –GLBTQ, Literary Fiction

Publication Date – 1998

Number of Pages – 288

Geographical Setting – London & Scotland

Time Period – 1960s – 1990s

Series – N/A

Plot Summary – Trumpet is the haunting and beautiful story of Joss Moody.  Moody, based on real life Billy Tipton, is a famous African American jazz trumpeter who was born female, but identifies as male.  She lives her entire life masquerading as a male, revealing the secret only to her wife, Millie.  The story begins after Moody’s death, when her ‘real’ identity has been discovered through an autopsy.

Touching on themes of identity, love, secrecy and racism, this novel is a captivating and emotional read.  Told from multiple perspectives, readers are given insight into the minds of Millie, Coleman (Moody’s son), the coroner, a journalist attempting to write a tell-all biography on Moody’s life, and many otherss.

Subject Headings – Family Secrets; Identity (Psychology); Jazz; Male Impersonators; Racism; Scotland; Transsexuals; Trumpet Players; Grief

Appeal – Lyrical, Haunting, Thought-Provoking, Poetic, Shocking, Romantic, Intimate, Engaging, Unusual, Multiple Points of View, Quirky, Entertaining

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe the Book – Thought-Provoking, Unusual, Haunting

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works –

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (Various Authors): This work is a compilation of essays written by transsexuals focusing on their individual quests to find their true selves. Readers who were interested in the transsexual aspect of Trumpet will likely enjoy these first person accounts.

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (by Diane Wood Middlebrook): This book is the biography of Billy Tipton, the transsexual trumpet player who Jackie Kay based Trumpet on.  Trumpet is a fictionalized account of Billy Tipton’s story.  Readers who wish for the factual version of Trumpet will certaily enjoy this biography.

The History of Jazz (by Ted Gioia): This book is a comprehensive history of jazz.  Touching on the origins of jazz, the various styles, the places where the genre evolved, and commentary on the style itself, this work will interest readers who enjoyed the musical aspect of Trumpet.

3 Relevant Fiction Works –

Stone Butch Blues (by Leslie Feinberg) – This novel tells the story of Jess, a woman who lives her life as a man. Throughout the novel she is undergoing a transsexual operation, in secret, as well as searching for a community of her own. Readers who wish for a different book about a woman living her life as a man would likely enjoy this read.

Floating (by Nicole Williams-Bailey) – This book is about a young woman coming to terms with her identity.  As the daughter of a white socialite and a black alcoholic, she is continuously rejected by both the white and black communities. This book would appeal to readers who were interested in the struggles found in Trumpet regarding interracial relations.

The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (by Louise Erdrich)- This is a lyrical and haunting novel about a dying priest who is asked to prove the sainthood of a woman, while guarding a secret about his identity in the process. This will appeal to readers who enjoyed how Trumpet was written from multiple perspectives, and also for those who liked reading about someone protecting a secret regarding their identity.