Posts Tagged ‘heart-wrenching’

Pet Sematary

October 26, 2011

Author: King, Stephen

Title:  Pet Sematary

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date: 2001

Number of pages: 562

Geographical Setting: Ludlow, Maine

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: A young family moves from Chicago to a country house in Ludlow, a small college town in Maine. The doctor, Louis Creed, his pretty wife, his sweet little daughter, and a toddler boy settle in quickly and make friends with a local, elderly couple from across the street. It all starts well but the first signs of menace can be felt when the neighbor, Jud Crandall, warns the Creeds against the dangers of the busy road that separates their houses, and then shows them an old “Pet Sematary” located in the back of their property. When the family cat gets killed, Jud secretly takes Louis and the corpse into the woods, past the “sematary” and into the old, supernatural Indian burying ground known for sending dead animals back, and sure enough, the cat appears alive. But is it really? What is the price of the resurrection? What are the limits?  What does the neighbor’s statement “sometimes dead is better” mean? The rest of this bone-chilling story rapidly descends into a psychological horror tale of unimaginable loss, macabre death, undead evil, and supernatural powers of a place that “went sour.”

Subject Headings: Undead, Pets, Pet Cemeteries, Loss (Psychology), Supernatural, Small town life—Maine.

Appeal: creepy, menacing, horrifying, visceral, disturbing, nightmarish, chilling, dark, morbid, ghoulish, revolting, heart-wrenching, compelling, character-driven, suspenseful, fast-paced.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: creepy, menacing, character-driven.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Stephen King Illustrated Companion: Manuscripts, Correspondence, Drawings and Memorabilia from the Master of Modern Horror by Bev Vincent: the book discusses King’s most iconic works and monsters, and tries to connect them to King’s personal experiences, thoughts and memories. Parts of the plot of “Pet Sematary” are based on King’s real-life experience and the connections are discussed in this companion book.

2) Encyclopedia of the Undead by Bob Curran: this book collects a wide range of vampires, werewolves, ghouls and monsters from around the world, traces their origins, and connects them to our psychology and archetypical fears.

3) Dark Woods, Chill Waters: Ghost Tales from Down East Maine by Marcus LiBrizzi: a collection of most chilling and menacing stories about Maine where deep, dark forests and harsh cliffs are reflected in the supernatural lore and stories of unimaginable horror and evil.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Walking by Bentley Little: a story of a chilling quest to uncover the source of a strange epidemic that turn people into walking dead and propels them to an unknown destination. Similarly to “Pet Sematary,” the story has a disturbing and menacing mood. It’s also fast-paced, character-driven and suspenseful.

2) Second Child by John Saul: a tale of an idyllic town of Secret Cove disturbed by a hundred-years-old legacy of an unspeakable evil act and channeled through a young girl, Melissa Holloway. The story is disturbing, menacing, fast-paced and addresses similar subject of disturbed “old evil” leading toward horrifying consequence.

3) The Good House by Tananarive Due: Angela Toussaint, the protagonist of the story, travels back to her family house to put a closure to the memory of her son’s suicide, only to realize that the town is possessed by evil ancestral spirits driving seemingly balanced people to suicide. Both “Pet Sematary” and this book are fast-paced and creepy horror stories about small town life, menacing supernatural and the psychology of loss.

Megan R.

The Girls Who Went Away: the Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children For Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

April 7, 2010

Author: Ann Fessler

Title: The Girls Who Went Away: the Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Their Children For Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: 21st Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In the years before Roe v. Wade, millions of young women became pregnant and were forced to give their babies up for adoption against their will.  Many of them were sent away to live in secrecy during the pregnancy and weren’t allowed to talk about their experience upon return.

Subject Headings: Adoption, social history, women studies, abortion, Roe v. Wade, unwed mothers, adoption regret

Appeal: compelling, detailed, dramatic, engrossing, historical details, intriguing introspective, investigative, political, thought-provoking, tragic, vivid, heart-wrenching, moderate pace

3 terms that best describe this book: Thought-provoking, tragic, riveting

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Slut! Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum: Tananbaum interviews 50 women who were labeled as promiscuous in junior high and high school.  She also discusses the double standard that young men are expected to have sex while young women are encouraged to remain virgins.

Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920 by Mary E. Odem: A study of the history of deviancy in women.  Odem discusses class, gender, and racial issues as well as the idea of social reform.

Coming Home to Self: the Adopted Child Grows Up by Nancy Newton Verrier: Verrier outlines the emotional impact being put up for adoption has on a child.  She also discusses how to deal with an adoptee in your life through out different stages of their life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Together for Good by Melanie Dobson: Abby Wagner decides to adopt a baby.  Four months after bringing her son home, his birth mother changes her mind and decides to take him back.  Twenty years later, Abby revisits her past and tries to make sense of it all.

Choices by Katrina L. Burchett: Burchett follows the lives of five teenaged girls as they make decisions about sex, pregnancy, and life.  Each of the girls handles situations differently and learns from the choices she makes.

The Grace of Guilt by Gareth Young: 15 year old Jessica becomes pregnant by her pastor’s son.  She soon finds herself ostracized from the church and disowned by her family.  The novel also focuses on a teenaged homosexual who is abused for his lifestyle and a middle-aged man who is in love with a girl half his age.

Name: Shannon Duffy

Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History

April 7, 2010

Author: Jorge Ramos

Title: Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History (Audio)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 208

Geographical Setting: Texas

Time Period: 21st Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Outside of Victoria, Texas on a hot May morning 19 people died of heat exposure, asphyxiation, and dehydration locked inside of a trailer truck. These 19 were illegal immigrants using coyote smugglers to get them over the border to start a new life in the United States. Learning of their treatment and suffering Jorge Ramos began an all-consuming project of finding out who these people were, why they so desperately wanted to get to America, the dangers that surround crossing the border illegally and immigration policies of the United States and Mexico. Using interviews with the victims’ families and survivors, personal experiences and conversations with policy makers Ramos creates a heart wrenching and informative piece. Reading his own book, the listener can almost feel the pain Ramos has over this story and issue and his passion to initiate change in the policies.

Subject Headings: Immigration, Human Trafficking, Survivor Stories, True Story

Appeal: engrossing, heart wrenching, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, outspoken, empathetic, accessible, political, vivid, character driven, first person narrative, moderate pace, somber, contemporary

3 terms that best describe this book: issue-oriented, informative, heart wrenching

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez: A memoir of life as a legal immigrant in America in a community filled with illegals, assimilation and embracing two cultures.

Children of Immigration by Carola SuĀirez-Orozco: After twenty years of research SuĀirez-Orozco presents her findings on life as an immigrant.

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea: The story of 26 men who crossed the border on foot and their experiences once inside America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Willow Leaf, Maple Leaf: A Novel of Immigration Blues by David Ke: An illegal immigrant living in Canada is conflicted with assimilating in to modern culture and leaving behind tradition in China.

Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration by Louis Mendoza & S. Shankar: Poems, fiction and memoirs of immigration from a variety of locations.

I Might Get Somewhere: Oral Histories of Immigration and Migration by Students of Balboa High School: An anthology of more than 100 stories of immigration to the US gathered and edited by students from Balboa High School in San Francisco.

Name: Michael Ann


October 20, 2009

Title: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (mid1930s to Winter 1944)

Author: Art Spiegelman

Publication Date: 1986

Number of Pages: 159

Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical/Biography/Memoir

Geographical Setting: New York, and World War II Poland

Time Period: The Present, 1930’s and 1940’s

Series: Part 1 of 2

Plot Summary: Art Spiegelman tells the events of his parents’ last years as survivors of the Holocaust, and the effect it has had on him. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. Each scene begins at Spiegelman’s father’s home in New York. An important theme emerges as the reader grasps that fact that Art has had an extremely difficult time adjusting to his own life, due to the burdens he bears regarding his parents’ experiences. As both author and artist, Spiegelman portrays a very realistic view of the difficulties his family has faced as first and second generation Holocaust survivors in this graphic novel format. Readers won’t want to miss the second part of the story in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale II: And Here My Troubles Began.

Subject Headings: Holocaust, Memoirs, Jewish history, Hitler, Europe, War survivors, Comic books, Children of Holocaust survivors, Father and son, Jewish-American men, Jewish-Americans, Biography, Graphic Novels (nonfiction), History, Wars, World War II, Concentration Camps, Anti-Semitism, The 1930s, The 1940s, The 1970s, Auschwitz survivors, Nazi prison camps, Genocide, Suicide, Wartime Poland, Contemporary New York, Brutality, Deprivation, Gas Chambers, Judaism, Jewish, Politics, Genocide, Polish Army, Old Eastern Europe, Stereotypes

Appeal: engaging, stimulating, compelling, realistic, relatable, struggle, survival, dark, intense, visual, historical, heart-wrenching, family, relationships, fathers and sons, symbolism, heroism, ominous, tormenting, complex, chilling realism, suffering, humor, mesmerizing, colorful, flawed

Three terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Intense,Visual

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Berlin: A City of Stones (2001) by Jason Lutes This graphic novel takes place in Berlin during the time period between the two World Wars. It uses black and white art, but it is not a gentle read. This novel shows some of the political changes that were, including the rise of the Nazi party and the increasing discrimination of the Jews. Readers should be aware that this book involves scenes which include sexual content and sexual orientation. Berlin was originally published in comic book form, 1-8.

A Jew in Communist Prague: Loss of Innocence (1997) by Vittorio Giardino — The first book in a series, recounts the childhood of Jonas Finkel, whose father is mysteriously taken by police in 1950 Communist Prague. Young Finkel is victimized by anti-Semitism, removed from school, forced to work as an errand boy, and isolated from his peers. The story ends hopefully as Jonas and his mother learn that his father is alive and being held in a prison camp.

A Generation of Wrath (1984) by Elio Romano – The story reads like a memoir, but the author considers it to be a work of fiction. It is an account of the author’s survival of five years in 11 different Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Occupied Poland. Elio Romano was 15-years-old, a member of an Orthodox Jewish family living in the quiet Polish town of Oswiecim, (or Auschwitz), when the German poured across the border. After he tried to escape to the Middle East, Romano was captured and dragged back to Poland, forced to help build the camp which soon became Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was liberated by the Americans in April of 1945, one of only 36 survivors of a last-minute German massacre.

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Mendel’s Daughter: A Memoir (2006) by Martin Lemelman – This graphic novel is a true story about the life of a Jewish girl growing up in Poland during the 1940s, describing how the Nazi persecution led to the deaths of her parents and other members of her family, while she and her brothers survived the war by hiding in the neighboring forest. The story is in the form of a “memoir” told in the voice of Lemelman’s mother, Gusta, a holocaust survivor. Lemelman’s charcoal drawings and photographs give the story a very subdued, historical point of view.

Night (1960) by Elie Wiesel Night is an amazing autobiographical narrative, in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. One of four children, Wiesel was the only one in his family to survive the holocaust. Translated from the French, the English version of this book captures the author’s youthfulness. Wiesel’s autobiography is easily an equal comparison to The Diary of Anne Frank due to the suffering shared, and the emotional and spiritual journey the author must deal with as a young boy.

Fax From Sarajevo (1996) by Joe Kubert — This graphic novel details the true account of artist Ervin Rustemagic who was trapped during the Serbian seige of Sarajevo. The only way Ervin could keep in touch with the outside world was to send faxes to various people he knew. Joe Kubert is an American friend of Ervin’s and he received faxes, which he turned into this book. Ervin and his family (his wife Edina and two children, Maja and Edvin) were forced to stay in war-torn Sarajevo as the Serbs continued to attack the city. This book won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album and it won a Harvey Award for best graphic album of original work.

Name: Maurine

Sole Survivor

October 7, 2009

Title: Sole Survivor

Author: Dean Koontz

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 403

Genre: Thriller

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter, suddenly finds himself without his wife and two daughters after a plane crash takes the lives of 330 people. He is told there are no survivors from Flight 353. Quitting his job, Joe walks around in a world of his own for a year. Then he meets a woman named Rose who claims to be the flight’s sole survivor. Rose shows Joe a picture and tells him that she will explain more later, and then suddenly disappears because the authorities are after her. Someone is after her, but Joe isn’t sure who “they” are as he sets off on a quest to find out if there are other survivors. Believing that there has been a cover-up, Joe is motivated by love for his family to find out the truth behind the plane crash. As the story unfolds, Joe methodically chases from one place to another, looking for clues along the way. Sole Survivor takes the reader on a fast-paced, emotional rollercoaster ride to the very end.

Subject Headings: Airplane accidentsColoradoAirplane accident survivors
Crime reportersLos Angeles, CaliforniaSuicideGenetic engineering
Government cover-upsGood and evil – Paranormal – Mind control – Mental Powers

Appeal: mysterious, psychological thriller, airplanes, complex, heart-wrenching, death, suicide, paranormal, espionage, good versus evil, catastrophic, unexplainable, paralyzing grief, heart-stopping, emotional, family, cover-up, investigation, hope, gripping, mythological symbolism, experiments, cults, conspiracy, corruption

Three terms that best describe this book: chilling, fast-paced, complex

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble – After the disappearance of a plane carrying her husband and son, Bree Nichols starts her own investigation and discovers a link to a violent crime that threatens to tear apart the peaceful town of Rock Harbor. (Intense action, personal investigation, search for missing family members, air plane mystery)

The Brueck Equation by Simmons Norwood – While working on a project for the eccentric mathematician Antoine Brueck, graduate student Steven Brooks discovers that one of the professor’s chaos theory formulas appears to predict airplane crashes. Steven’s own life is thrown into total chaos as he races against time to understand what is happening…and to prevent the next disaster. Can Brueck’s equation really predict plane crashes, or is there a more sinister explanation? And can Steven unravel the mystery in time to save the lives of 437 passengers on final approach to disaster? (Airplane crashes, theory, disaster, mystery)

Phenomenon by Sameer Zuhad – Vikrant Vasan, an enigmatic parapsychologist, demonstrates psychic feats and explains the underlying facts of the mysterious phenomena of life and the universe. (Parapsychology, mysterious phenomena, paranormal activity)

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell – Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive. (Survival, secret mission, government)

Cloning and Genetic Engineering (Life in the Future) by Holly Cefrey – Science fiction becomes science fact in this intriguing series that explores the extraordinary scientific advances modern man is making – and their impact on society, economics and our future. (Science fiction, scientific advances, experimentation)

Mind Control, World Control by Jim Keith – Is mind control technology linked to UFO activity and UFO abductions? A little-known and controversial subject, mind control is thoroughly examined by veteran author and investigator Jim Keith. Exploring a startling amount of information, Mind Control, World Control analyses the technology used to control human minds. It reveals the methodology of implants and exposes mind control assassins and couriers, as well as famous mind control victims Sirhan Sirhan and Candy Jones. Among the many revealing chapters in this shocking work are those on early CIA experiments such as Project Artichoke and Project RIC-EDOM. (Mind control, controversy, technology, implants, victims, government experiments)

Name: Maurine