Posts Tagged ‘heartwarming’

Boy Meets Boy

November 28, 2012

Author: David Levithan

Title: Boy Meets Boy

Genre: GLBT fiction; Realistic fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 185

Geographical Setting: Not specified. “Gaytopia”

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Sophomore high school student, Paul, does not have an especially profound coming out story. His kindergarten teacher simply sent a report card home to his parents that read: “Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self.” Such is the laidback attitude of Paul’s town where people of all sexual orientations are treated with respect and acceptance. In this community, being gay is not considered a unique trait but rather par for the course. Paul lives in a place where the quarterback of the high school football team is a cross-dresser who also happens to be the homecoming queen. Additionally, the cheerleading squad is not your typical pom-pom crowd but rather a group of Harley-riding bikers. While Paul has had crushes spanning back to third grade, and a few ex-boyfriends along the way, none of these encounters can compare to the remarkable response Paul feels after meeting Noah. The new kid at school, Noah is artistic, kind, and intriguing. Paul falls in love deeply and quickly, yet an ex-boyfriend named Kyle has suddenly regained interest in Paul, which threatens the joy of this new romance. Paul would normally seek advice from his friends regarding the resurgence of his ex-boyfriend; however, his childhood best friend, Joni, is engrossed in a new boyfriend whose dating motives are questionable. In addition to Joni’s absence, Paul’s friend, Tony, has been put under house arrest by his conservative family. Now Paul must find a way to repair his strained friendships while also protecting his new relationship with Noah despite Kyle’s confusing advances. Inspiring and heartwarming, Boy Meets Boy is a contemporary coming-of-age story about friendships, family, and romance. Paul’s narration is unpretentious and thoughtful in this tale of believable teenage issues in an extraordinary town.

Subject Headings: Gay teenagers, High school sophomores, Infatuation in teenage boys, Interpersonal relations, Teenage boys, Teenage romance

Three Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Heartwarming, Hopeful, Inspiring

Appeal: Contemporary, Breezy, Conversational, Thoughtful, Unpretentious, Unhurried, Heartwarming, Lighthearted, Hopeful, Strong Secondary Characters, Inspiring, Character-Centered

Fiction Read Alikes:

The Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw

Aspiring to be his high school’s matchmaker, Lucas endeavors to set up his best friend Cate with the attractive new kid at school, Derek. Despite her initial reluctance, Cate falls for Derek who appears to only have eyes for Lucas. This triangle is further complicated when Lucas returns Derek’s crush which in turn threatens his relationship with Cate. Readers who are looking for additional YA GLBT fiction that discusses how first loves can complicate friendships should pick up this contemporary and humorous read.

How I paid for college: a novel of sex, theft, friendship & musical theater by Marc Acito

Recently graduated from high school, Edward Zanni has a seemingly perfect life. He has a beautiful girlfriend, an intriguing and attractive football-playing friend, and an acceptance to Julliard. When Edward’s father suddenly announces he won’t be able to pay his son’s tuition due to an upcoming marriage, Edward enlists the help of his friends to secure his collegiate future. Edward’s entourage of friends make for enjoyable secondary characters and Edward’s journey of discovering his own sexuality is endearing and believable. Adult and teen Boy Meets Boy fans looking for another humorous coming-of-age story about friendship and self-discovery might enjoy How I Paid for College.

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan

Childhood best friends, Hal and Chuck, are spending a summer apart for the first time in ten years. In order to keep in touch, the two teens set up a blog in which Hal discusses falling for a young Frenchman and Chuck describes his crush on summer camp thespian. Despite Hal’s recently coming out to Chuck, their friendship remains strong and the two boys discuss love and sex in a frank and humorous tone. Boy Meets Boy fans who are looking for another witty, contemporary read about friendship and first loves might enjoy this book.

Non-Fiction Read Alikes:

The full spectrum: a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities

Edited by Boy Meets Boy author Levithan, The Full Spectrum is a collection of non-fiction poems and short stories written by gay teenagers in which they discuss their experiences with coming out, religion, family, friends, and love. Readers who enjoyed Paul’s believable teenage narration of traditional high school experiences might wish to explore similar true stories from gay young adults.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

In this non-fiction anthology, sixty-four professional authors write letters to their teenage selves in which they discuss issues such as coming out and self-discovery. Readers who are looking for more traditional coming out stories (compared to Paul’s kindergarten report card) might enjoy this title.

When the Drama Club Is Not Enough: Lessons from the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students by Jeff Perrotti

In this guidebook for teens, Perrotti (the founding director of the Massachusetts Department of Education initiative) shares his experiences as an activist for teens while trying to promote gay rights in the school setting. Some Boy Meets Boy fans may find Paul’s accepting high school environment inspiring; those readers seeking materials on how to promote gay rights in their own school should read this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

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The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

November 7, 2012

Author: Anthology, 64 contributing authors

Title: The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 281

Geographical Setting: N/A

Time Period: Present (some flashbacks to authors’ adolescence).

Plot Summary: What would you write if you could send a letter to your young adult self? This question is explored in The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves as sixty-four LGBT authors, including Michael Cunningham and Amy Bloom, create an anthology of letters written to themselves as teenagers. While each letter is unique and distinctive, the collection as a whole discusses topics such as: exploring self-identity, the sometimes painful process of coming out, and encouragement and hope for bright futures ahead. Some authors write letters that are nostalgic and humorous as they discuss memorable moments from their adolescence, a well-remembered love for Barbara Streisand’s Broadway albums for example. Other letters take on a more serious tone with discussions of bullying or teenage self-loathing. Despite the variety of moods present in this anthology, the collective message found in the text is hopeful and reassuring with promises of happy adulthood in a more tolerant society. In addition to content, the letters are also unique in format. While the majority of entries consist of traditional letters, others are written in free verse or graphic novel form. This anthology of unsent letters makes for an emotional read that is heartwarming at times while tearful at others. Written in a conversational tone, The Letter Q is an honest and endearing read about courage and self-acceptance that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

Subject Headings: Coming out (Sexual orientation), Gay men, Self-acceptance, Social situations, Teenage, Teenagers, Gays-Identity, Adolescence

Three Appeal Terms: Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic

Appeal: Compassionate, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic, Optimistic, Flashbacks, Issue-Oriented, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Conversational, Multiple Points of View.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality by John Schwartz

Written by a New York Times correspondent, Schwartz tells the heartbreaking story of his thirteen-year-old son’s attempt to commit suicide after coming out to friends and family. The near tragedy becomes an uplifting tale as Schwartz recounts his mission to make his teenage son feel safe and supported. Fans of The Letter Q who are looking for additional true coming out stories that are both positive and encouraging may also enjoy this title.

Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge

Structured as a guidebook for young adults, Queer offers advice on a wide range of topics including dating, sex, and homophobia. For young adults who appreciated the guidance and suggestions provided in The Letter QQueer may be helpful additional reading for teens who are seeking more resources on coming out.

When I Knew (2005)

A collection of anecdotes from eighty contributing writers, When I Knew authors describe the moment they realized they were gay and the coming out process that followed. When I Knew may appeal to Q fans who are looking for additional anthologies of coming out stories that are both inspiring and humorous.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

My most excellent year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is narrated by three young adults from Boston who share their experiences of love and friendship through letters, emails, and instant messages. This trio of unique characters consists of  T.C., who is baseball-obsessed and has made a hobby of writing letters to his deceased mother; Alejandra, whose father is an ambassador to Mexico and holds Jacqueline Kennedy as her role model; and Augie, a musical theater fanatic who shares his own coming out story. Young adult readers who enjoyed the multiple voices included in The Letter Q may appreciate this humorous coming-of-age/coming out story told through three narrators. My Most Excellent Year’s format of letters, emails, and texts might also appeal to Q fans.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
 by Emily Franklin

High school senior Lucas is thoroughly shocked when his lifelong best friend, Tessa, turns down his prom invitation and also comes out to him as a lesbian. Wanting to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the dance, Tessa is faced with Lucas’ betrayal of spreading her secret and the town’s backlash towards her determination to attend the prom.  readers who are looking for another inspiring yet humorous coming out story told through multiple perspectives might appreciate this title.

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Sixteen-year-old Steven embarks on a mission to prove to himself that, despite his doubts, he is straight. His adventures include dating a slue of his female classmates, socializing with the jocks, and a comical attempt to purchase a Playboy. When Steven finally admits to himself that he is gay, he comes out to his best friend who responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and urges him to share the good news with everyone he knows. Similar to The Letter Q, Absolutely, Positively Not is endearing, hopeful, and hilarious. Q fans who are seeking additional believable, light-hearted coming out stories might enjoy this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

Twenties Girl

October 31, 2012

Author:  Sophie Kinsella

Title:  Twenties Girl

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  435

Geographical Setting:  London, England

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  As if being recently dumped by her long-time boyfriend and struggling to manage a failing new business weren’t enough to deal with, 27 year-old Londoner Lara Lington suddenly finds herself haunted by her recently deceased, 105 year-old, Great Aunt Sadie, whom she had never met and never cared to know.  Sadie has come back as her 23 year-old self:  a beautiful, irrepressible, Charleston-loving flapper from the Roaring 20’s — and Lara is the only person who can see her.  Sadie’s ghost refuses to rest until she recovers a favorite necklace that has mysteriously disappeared from the nursing home where she resided, and she recruits a reluctant and disbelieving Lara to help with the search.  To Lara’s dismay, Sadie has no qualms about putting Lara in increasingly embarrassing situations as she relives the frivolity of her flapper days and assists in the hunt for her necklace.  Despite her frustrations, Lara soon learns that ghosts can come in pretty handy when dealing with competing love interests, high-stakes business dealings, and swindling family members.  In this heartwarming and funny tale, Lara grows to love and respect the Great Aunt she never knew, whom she learns had to cope with heartbreak and family drama not so very different from Lara’s own modern-day troubles.

Subject Headings:  Young women—Fiction; Families—Fiction; Treasure troves–Fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, humorous, lighthearted, romantic, quirky, well-drawn characters, strong secondary characters, family relationships, imaginative, magical, strong language, contemporary, details of London, details of the Roaring 20’s, breezy, chatty, engaging, informal, witty

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book:  humorous, heartwarming, quirky

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Like Twenties Girl, Helen Fielding’s funny, classic chick lit tale tells the story of a young, single London woman struggling to sort out the intricacies of love, family, and career.  Bridget’s quest to achieve inner poise, lasting love, and the perfect weight unfolds in the form of a diary kept over the course of an eventful year.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham

Readers of Twenties Girl who found pleasure in the ghostly interactions between Lara and Great Aunt Sadie and enjoyed learning about a bygone era, may also enjoy this humorous title by Lorna Graham.  Single, young writer Eve Weldon has moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in search of a job, romance, and inspiration for her writing.  Once settled into her new apartment, she finds it inhabited by the ghost of Donald, a member of the Village’s Beat Generation of the 1960’s, who asks for her help in completing his own unfinished work.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Readers who enjoyed the humor, quirky heroine, family drama, and elements of mystery that form the heart of Twenties Girl, may also enjoy reading about the adventures of Stephanie Plum, the incompetent bounty-hunter at the center of Janet Evanovich’s comic mysteries.  In this first title of the series, Stephanie puts her amateur tracking skills to work in an effort to hunt down a former high-school flame who has been accused of murder.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring 20’s by Lucy Moore

Through the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie in Twenties Girl, readers get a tantalizing taste of the attitudes, glamour, and scandal that epitomized the Roaring 20’s.  This title by Lucy Moore provides an enjoyable and entertaining history of the 1920’s, including discussion of the real-life personalities and the many significant social and political changes that came to define the era.

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

A major plot line in Twenties Girl involves Lara’s desperate attempts to win back the boyfriend who dumped her, despite Great Aunt Sadie’s insistence that Lara deserves much better when it comes to matters of romance.  This popular relationship advice manual counsels women on how to stop obsessing about men who don’t really care about them and to instead focus on finding someone who does.

Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side by James Van Praagh

The ghost of Great Aunt Sadie becomes a major influence in Lara’s life in Twenties Girl.  In this title, Van Praagh explores the mysterious world of ghosts and spirits and, through the use of true ghost stores, illustrates how they actively participate in our daily lives.

Becky King

Heartwood

October 31, 2012

Publication Date: 2011

Author: Belva Plain

Title: Heartwood

Genre: Women Lives and Relationships

Number of Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 1979-1983

Series (If applicable): Werner Family Saga

Plot Summary: The last novel in the Werner Family Saga, Heartwood is a leisurely-paced story about Iris Stern’s family life. Set in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Iris Stern, who is a daughter of a Polish-Jewish immigrant and a professor at a university. Even though she is a modern woman with a successful career, but when it comes to family, she is more old-fashioned. Even when her marriage is unwinding, Iris stays with her husband, Theo. Additionally; Heartwood goes into the adult lives of Iris’s three children, which are two boys and a girl. Although all three of her children are described in the story, it mainly goes back and forth between Iris and her only daughter Laura. Laura married her husband Robbie in college because she was pregnant with her daughter Katie. Laura’s marriage to Robby is on the rocks because she has found success in her catering business and Robby cannot adapt to the fact that she is the breadwinner. The heartwarming novel explains the stories of Iris and Laura’s secrets, hardships and happy moments in their marriages and family life.

Subject Headings: Jewish women – New York City; options, alternatives, choices; family secrets – New York City; Jewish families; Adult children – family relationships; stern family

Appeal: character-driven; detailed; engaging; family-centered; heartwarming; intimate; leisurely-paced; moving; nostalgic; reflective; romantic; straightforward; well-developed

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: family-centered; heartwarming; leisurely-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Pearlman, Ann, Infidelity (autobiography of three generations of a Jewish family and there family secrets)

– Rosen, Ruth, The world split open: how the modern women’s movement changed America (explains why women’s movement changed America,  how women like Iris and Laura can be successful women in the late 1970s into the early 1980s because of the impact of the women’s movement)

– Schulman, Bruce J., The seventies: the great shift in American culture, society, and politics (describes the cultural and political history of the 1970s which is when Heartwood took place)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-, A Women of Substance ( first book of Harte family saga throughout several generations, woman who immigrated from Europe)

– Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden (mother-daughter relationship, secrets of family- history)

– Sullivan, J. Courtney, Maine (three generations of women who have different values, hidden secrets)

Name: Samantha Biegel

Secrets of the Lost Summer

October 3, 2012

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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

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

August 15, 2012

Author: Grogan, John

Title: Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

 Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 291 p.

Geographical Setting: Florida, United States.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This story follows Marley, an adorable hyperactive Labrador retriever, and his owners as they embark on a journey of growth as a family. Since the first days at his new home, Marley proved to be a charming trouble-maker mastering the art of adventurous mischief. Grogan, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his wife decided owning a puppy early in their marriage. Little did they know that Marley would make such an impact in their lives. In this heartwarming and humorous memoir Grogan includes unforgettable anecdotes full of hilarious naughty behavior, such as the time when Marley was kicked out of obedience school, or when he shut down an entire beach, and the time when he swallowed an 18-karat solid gold necklace. Not much was out of Marley’s reach, even protecting a teenager neighbor after a stabbing attack. But more than an adorable bad dog, Marley became inspiration, comfort and support for this family through good and difficult times.

Subject Headings: Labrador retriever – Florida; Dogs as pets; Men and dogs; Dogs; Human/animal relations.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, heartwarming, humorous, engaging, homespun, lighthearted, upbeat, friendly, family-centered, moving, details of pet-owner relations, dog-centered.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  heartwarming, humorous, engaging.

 ***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson. Adam March is an ambitious businessman who suddenly looses everything, including his job and family. He is sentenced to community service at a homeless shelter where he meets Chance, an abused pit bull mix, who teaches him about survival.  Just Like Marley and me, this inspirational read strongly emphasizes the power of dog companionship and bonding through life changing events.

Stay by Allie Larkin. After seeing the love of her life getting married, followed by a Rin Tin Tin marathon, drunk and heartbroken Van Leone makes an impulse online puppy purchase. To her surprise, she receives a peculiar one-hundred-pound German Shepherd that responds to Slovakian commands only and introduces her to a handsome veterinarian. This funny chick lit story shares Grogan’s upbeat, dog-centered, and feel-good elements.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. In this inspirational and moving novel, a philosophical lab terrier mix named Enzo narrates his life story as companion for a family from which he has learned what he needs in order to return as a human on his next life. This novel also features strong human-pet relationships with humorous and heartwarming tones.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horrowitz.  Based on cognitive science, this book provides some insight about how dogs perceive the world around them and their relationships.  This a good read for those who would like to get better understanding about their Marley-like energetic and neurotic dogs.

Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost by Barbara Abercrombie. This is a moving collection of tales celebrating beloved animal-human experiences. Columnist Grogan certainly knows how painful the loss of a pet can be; readers will find comfort on these joyful and tender stories authored by different writers.

Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog: A 3-Step Positive Dog-Training Program by Julie A. Bjelland. With 15 years of experience, Bjelland offers practical and helpful information and advice emphasizing a simple and effective approach for positive dog training. For those who want to avoid the embarrassment of being kicked out of domineering obedience schools.

Fanny Camargo

The Color of Water

August 14, 2012

Author:  James McBride

Title:  The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Genre:  Nonfiction, Multicultural, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date:  1996

Number of Pages: 285

Geographical Setting:  Suffolk, Virginia, New York City

Time Period:  1930s-1990s.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”

Growing up, James McBride noticed his mother did not look like him or his eleven brothers and sisters.  She didn’t look like anyone in the New York projects where they lived.  He would repeatedly ask her why she does not look like they do; she’d reply she was light skinned, that was she was a human being and not to worry about it, anything to not talk about it.  None of that matter to her; what mattered was school and church.  As an adult, James persuaded his mother, Ruth to tell her story.  She shared the story of a Jewish girl born in Poland to a Rabbi and her loving mother, immigrating to the United States, and raised in the south.  When she was twenty, she escaped to Harlem, where she married a black man in the 1940s, and converted to Christianity, thereby renouncing her Jewish background and family.  This biographical memoir takes the readers into Ruth’s world, growing up in the 1930’s to the present, while also taking readers into James’s upbringing in Ruth’s household in the 1960s.

Subject Headings:  Racially mixed people – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Mothers – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Whites – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Racially mixed people –Race identity, New York (N.Y.) – Biography.  Family and Relationships – Families.  Biography – Everyday People.  Christianity.  Judaism.

Appeal:  Inspirational, character-driven, heartwarming, thoughtful, leisurely-paced, steady, compassionate, flawed, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, intimate, thoughtful.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Inspirational, character-driven, thoughtful.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black by Gregory Howard Williams.  The author recounts the shocking experience of learning his father’s relatives in Indiana were poor and Black and the resulting prejudice him and his brother experienced from both sides.  Like Color of Water, these two memoirs address a young man’s search for his racial and ethnic identity while growing up with a white mother and an African-American father.

The Color of Love: A Mother’s Choice in Jim Crow South by Gene Cheek.  This memoir presents a story surrounding the year 1963 in during the Jim Crow era, where the author was removed from his mother’s custody because she has a half-mixed baby.  While the exact circumstances differ, both books are moving accounts of the southern United States, racial tension, poverty and the struggle for identity and feeling of belonging.

The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli N. Evans, Willie Morris.  This is a classic portrait of Jews in the South.   Authors Evans and Morris takes readers inside the nexus of southern and Jewish histories.  This book gives the reader a closer look to what it was like to be Jewish in the south, straddling the line between black and white, that Ruth McBride Jordan experienced.

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

Stopping for Green Lights by Alyce Miller.  This coming of age book set in the 1960s is about a cynical young white woman, yearning to fit in with her Black friends, falling in love with a nineteen year old Black man, who teaches her a hard lesson by his betrayal.  This fictional account shares similar subject and appeal terms, like coming of age, racial identity and the sixties, which was part of the back drop in The Color of Water.

Joshua’s Bible by Shelly Leanne. Philadelphia minister Joshua Clay is sent to South Africa, to be the first black minister in years.  He struggles to minister during the apartheid-era 1930s.  This story shares the Christianity tones, racial struggle and adversity during a time period that was featured in The Color of Water.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank. This fictional tale follows observations by Sophie Applebaum of her Jewish Pennsylvania family over the course of twenty years.  This story is a readalike because it features the dynamic of a Jewish family.

Name:  Olivia Button

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

August 8, 2012

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Author: Ruth Reichl

Title: Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoirs; Autobiographies (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York and Connecticut

Time Period: 1950’s

Plot Summary: Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor-in-chief and restaurant critic for The New York Times, writes memoirs about her childhood written under the umbrella of food and cooking. Cooking was her escape from her dysfunctional family, but especially in dealing with her mother who suffered from a mental illness. Although it sounds like this book should be sad and tragic, the stories are told in an amusing and heartwarming way. This novel is set at a relaxed pace as you get to know Ruth as well as the many other descriptive and engaging characters.

Subject Headings: Reichl, Ruth; Cooking; Growing up; Food habits-United States; Recipes

Appeal: character-driven, relaxed pace, amusing, bittersweet, heartwarming, inspirational, nostalgic, candid, conversational, descriptive, dialect-rich, engaging, lush, hopeful, thoughtful, imaginative, clever, colorful, metaphorical

3 terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, descriptive, and character-driven

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber – If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and culture and liked the relaxed pace and amusing nature of Tender at the Bone, you may enjoy this book.

2.    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver- If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and are interested in finding out more about locally grown foods, you may enjoy this read alike.

3.      Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell – If you enjoy reading autobiographies about food and cooking,and appreciate a book with a conversational and humorous tone just like Tender at the Bone, you might want to try this book. (Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – If you like reading humorous stories about a chefs and cooking set in a relaxed pace, you may enjoy this book.

2.      Corinna Chapman Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood – If you enjoy reading engaging mysteries about food and cooking, this series might appeal to you. (First book in the series is Earthly Delights.)

3.      The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – If you liked the character-driven nature of Tender at the Bone, but would like to try something a little bit more offbeat and lyrical, you might want to try this book.

Name: Patty Prodanich

Light a Penny Candle

August 1, 2012

Author:  Maeve Binchy

Title:  Light a Penny Candle

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  1982

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting:  Ireland, London

Time Period:  World War II, Post World War II

Series:  n/a

Plot Summary:  During World War II, ten year old English girl Elizabeth White is sent to Kilgarret, Ireland to live with her mother’s former schoolmate in Kilgarret, Ireland.  There, reserved and shy Elizabeth begins a lifelong friendship with the vivacious daughter, Aisling O’Connor.  It is Aisling who teaches Elizabeth to have faith in life and convinces her that if you light a penny candle at church, your most sacred wish will come true.  Five years later, Elizabeth returns to London, armed with a new sense of independence and love of life.  She pursues a career in art, against her parent’s wishes and embarks in a no-strings attached love life.  Aisling, meanwhile remains in Kilgarret, longing to exploring the world.  She is courted by the son of Kilgarret’s wealthiest families but cannot convince herself he would make her happy.  She escapes to London to meet up with Elizabeth.   They experience their past and present meeting while they struggle when they realize they are both involved and in love with the same irresistible man and how they choose to deal with it.  Their friendship spans through the war and after, through the trials and tribulations of life, including sorrow, dreams, love, and betrayal. 

Subject Headings:  Friendship – Fiction, Women, Self-Discovery, World War II, Women – Ireland, The Forties (20th Century), Men-Women Relationships.

Appeal:   Character-centered, leisurely paced, heartwarming, homespun, vivid, detailed, flawed characters, domestic, engaging, poetic, multiple points of view, emotionally-charged.

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

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

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, who despite completely different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever. They have stayed true to this promise for thirty years, until evens and choices in their lives tear them apart.  This book’s appeal reflects the life-long female friendship that is similar to Light a Penny Candle.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.  
When Siddi inadvertently reveals some revealing things about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together using a scrapbook of childhood memories that they ask Vivi to put together.”   -Novelist Plus.    This story was chosen as a read-alike because it has multiple perspectives, is character driven, along with relationships that span a lifetime.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  After a night of drunken partying, Rachel sleeps with her best friend’s fiancée.  Rachel is consumed with guilt and intense feelings for the finance, forcing her to make a difficult choice.
This suggestion has more dramatic readalike because it features a female friendship but in a raw, gritty way, set in present day  in compared to Light a Penny Candle.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dear Helen: Wartime Letters from a Londoner to her American Pen Pal by Betty M. Swallow.   Between 1937 and 1950, a working-class Londoner and her American pen pal exchange letters.  The Londoner offers accounts on the Blitz and how World War II affected life in London.  This account gives the reader a look at what life could have been for the character Elizabeth if her mother did not send her to Ireland to live for the duration of the war.

The Story of Ireland: a History of the Irish People by Neil Hegarty.  A history of how Ireland has been shaped by outside influences through the past 2,500 years.   This book in particular touches when Ireland was neutral in World War II.

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 by David Kynaston.  This is the people’s history of post-World War II England as a social profile that links everyday lives to period events.  It pays tribute to the nation’s passionate dedication to survival and rebuilding.   After the war, Elizabeth and Aisling spends time in London.  This compliments the time period to give the reader a better sense of how life was during that rebuilding time.

Name:  Olivia Button

Maybe This Time

August 1, 2012

Author:  Jennifer Cruise

Title: Maybe This Time

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  342

Geographical Setting:  Ohio

Time Period:  1992

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  When Andie Miller’s ex-husband, North Archer, asks her to drive down to southern Ohio and take care of two children of whom he has recently become guardian, she is a bit reluctant.  She decides to go for a month, take the money that he offers and then be free to marry her new fiancé, Will.  When she gets down there she finds two uninterested children, one lazy housekeeper and a home full of ghosts.  With the help of several other family members Andie gets through to the children and discovers that the romance between her and her ex may not be dead after all.

Subject Headings: Nannies-Fiction, Haunted houses- Fiction, Domestic-Fiction, Divorce- Fiction, Paranormal- Fiction, Romance.

Appeal:  easy pacing, relaxed, character centered, domestic, quirky characters, sexy, light, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, candid, colorful.

3 terms that best describe this book:

easy pacing, quirky characters, humorous

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Spook:  Science Tackles the Afterlife- Mary Roach

In an attempt to find out what happens when people die, Roach brings in the opinions of an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that there is an afterlife.  Readers interested in ghosts and the afterlife will enjoy this book.

Baking– James Peterson

The craft of baking is based on good technique. Learn the fundamentals well, and you can bake perfect cakes, cookies, tarts, breads, and pastries each and every time. That’s the premise of Baking, revered cooking teacher James Peterson’s master course in baking fundamentals. In more than 350 recipes and techniques, accompanied by step-by-step photographs, Peterson lays the foundation for lifelong baking success.  Readers inspired by Andie’s baking lessons with Alice will enjoy this guide to baking.

Getting it Right This Time:  How to Create a Loving and Lasting Marriage– Barry W McCarthy and Emily J McCarthy

Although divorce is common, it often holds negative associations. Husband and wife team Barry and Emily McCarthy view divorce and remarriage with optimism, showing it to be a courageous choice and a positive step towards a better life. In Getting it Right This Time, they zoom in on remarriage issues and identify the factors that led to the end of a marriage, using that information to help you learn from past mistakes and start over.  The themes of divorce and starting over are a strong part of Maybe This Time.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Summer by the Sea- Susan Wiggs

Rosa Capoletti runs an award-winning restaurant that is one of the most romantic in town.  She herself has not had a real romance since her love affair with Alexander Montgomery ended suddenly a decade ago. But Rosa’s life takes an unexpected turn when Alexander arrives back in town and asks for her help sorting through his late mother’s affairs. Reunited at the beach house where they first met and fell in love, Rosa and Alexander discuss the past and try to decide if their love can have a second chance.  “Maybe This Time and Summer by the Sea are character-driven, funny, and witty contemporary romances about second chances.”- Novelist

Eat Cake- Jeanne Ray

Ruth has always found baking cakes to be a source of relief from the stresses of life. And now-as her husband loses his job; her parents arrive for an extended stay, and her teenage daughter perfects the art of sulking-Ruth is going to have to save the day. Readers who enjoy the upbeat tone and well developed characters of Maybe This Time will enjoy this book.

Demon Hunting in Dixie– Lexi George

Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude, who knows there’s not many men to choose from in Hannah, AL. Until one day Brand Dalvahni shows up.  He’s a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built warrior from another dimension.  Brand claims he’s here to rescue Addy from a demon, which she thinks is insane!  But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen and Addy knows she wants to keep Brand close.  This supernatural romance will appeal to readers of Maybe This Time who enjoyed the light and funny paranormal aspects of the story.

Name:  Becky Ozinga