Posts Tagged ‘historical details’

When the Emperor Was Divine

November 27, 2012

Author: Julie Otsuka

Title: When the Emperor Was Divine

Genre: Historical Fiction, Multi-cultural

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 144

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: 1942-1945

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This is a historically detailed story about a family that was in the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. The novel, which is written in third person, begins with the mother and two children still at home after their father was arrested. This was a few months before the rest of the family goes to the internment camp. The rest of the novel the characters reflect there unfortunate journey and lives while in the Japanese Internment Camp and their lives after the war. Even though living in the internment camps for over three years was horrible, it was bittersweet because they have pleasant moments and dreams. This family-centered novel provides the readers with a character-driven perspective of the lives in the internment camps in the United States during the Second World War

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans – Mass internment, 1942-1945; World War II – California; Japanese-American families; concentration camps — California

Appeal: atmospheric; bittersweet; character-driven; closely observed; detailed setting; emotionally intense; family-centered; historical details; leisurely paced; multiple points of view; nostalgic; reflective; richly detailed; strong sense of place; thought-provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bittersweet; family-centered; historical details

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Davenport, John C., The attack on Pearl Harbor: The United States enters World War II (explains the historical details of how and why the Japanese were put into the internment camps)

– Grant, Kimi Cunningham, Silver like dust: one family’s story of America’s Japanese internment (an actual individual family-centered account of the internment camps)

– Grapes, Bryan J., Japanese-American internment camps (several articles and stories of people who were in the internment camps)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Appanah-Mouriquan, Nathacha, 1973-, The last brother (bittersweet, family-centered, World War II story)

– Finney, Ernest J., California time (family-centered story about a Japanese American families relationship with Portuguese and Italian families, and how World War II affected the relationship)

– Salisbury, Graham, Eyes of the emperor (thought-provoking, Japanese American story during World War II, story through the eyes of individual who fought in the war and was still discriminated against)

Name: Samantha Biegel

Get me out: a history of childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the sperm bank

November 7, 2012

Get me outTitle: Get me out : a history of childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the sperm bank

Author: Randi Hutter Epstein

Genre: Nonfiction, Science Writing

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 302

Geographical Setting: Setting changes, as does time period

Plot Summary:  Get me out is an incredibly interesting, if not mildly disturbing overview of the history of childbirth.  Randi Hutter Epstein does a good job providing scholarly information in a popular and easily accessible way that non-medical professionals will be able to understand.  An example of this blending of scholarly and popular is the stylistic choice to include footnotes at the bottom of the pages, instead of having to flip to the end of the book to find the additional information.  The topics covered vary from medical to issue-oriented.  A few examples are discussions about how certain current medical procedures were perfected, how resistant doctors were to accept findings contrary to what suited their needs, and how influential health insurance providers were several decades ago.  This is  book is for everyone; however, I would caution the faint of heart, or anyone currently pregnant because the descriptions can be rather graphic and some of the topics covered are still current issues today.
Subject Headings: Birth customs; Childbirth; Gynecology; Midwifery; Obstetrics; Pregnancy; Reproduction; Reproductive technology; Medicine; Childbirth — History

Appeal:  Compelling; Engrossing; Sobering; Issue-oriented; Thought-provoking; Historical details; Accessible; Medical details; Descriptive; Episodic; Frank; Jargon; Well-researched; Informative; Graphic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Compelling; Informative; Historical and Medical details;

Three fiction read-alikes:

The birth house by Ami McKay (Childbirth, Thought-provoking, Descriptive)

In an isolated village in Nova Scotia during the first years of World War I, a midwife and her apprentice, Dora Rare, face the challenge of protecting generations of birthing traditions and wisdom when a smooth new doctor comes to town promising fast, painless childbirths.

The birth of love by Joanna Kavenna (Childbirth, Issue-oriented)

In nineteenth-century Vienna, doctors did not routinely wash their hands.  In twenty-first-century London, a woman chooses to have a drug free homebirth.  In twenty-second-century Arctic Circle, a woman rebels against custom and becomes pregnant without the help of science.  Three different women, during three different centuries face their generations’ challenges of labor and childbirth.

 The zygote chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore (Pregnancy)

A humorous story, told in diary form, about a 30 year-old woman’s pregnancy and the changes and challenges she faces as motherhood nears.

Three related non-fiction titles:

Pink and Blue: telling the boys from the girls in America by Jo B. Paoletti (Social issues, Descriptive, History)

How important is it to dress children in the ‘right’ colors?  This book explores the fascinating history of gendered clothing in America.  A culmination of 30 years of research, this book covers issues of child development, gender studies, fashion, marketing, and parenting. For those curious about the answer to the question, blue used to be for girls!

Birth matters: how what we don’t know about nature, bodies, and surgery can hurt us by Ina May Gaskin (Science writing, Descriptive, Childbirth)

Ina May offers a global and practical look at pregnancy and the significance and purpose of childbirth.  Ina May is a famous midwife with years of experience and knowledge about different cultural approaches to childbirth.

Pushed: the painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care by Jennifer Block (Science writing, Childbirth, Maternal health services)

Block, known to many from her previous book Our Bodies, Ourselves, tackles the current issues women are faced with when deciding where and how to give birth.  This book delves into questions pertaining to the number of cesarean sections and episiotomies performed and whether or not that number is reflective of necessity for a safe and healthy childbirth.

Name: Shira

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

November 7, 2012

devilwhitecitycoverAuthor: Erik Larson

Title: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Genre:Adult books for young adults; History Writing; True Crime

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 447

Geographical Setting: Chicago, IL

Plot Summary: While the architect David Burnham and his colleagues labored tirelessly to design the spectacular World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, a man by the name of H.H. Holmes used the distraction of the fair to erect his own World’s Fair Hotel and lure victims under his guise as a charming doctor to their gruesome deaths. Larson alternates the stories of the architect and the serial killer to create one compelling tale of the effects of the World’s Fair on the city of Chicago and the underlying evil that lurked right in the midst of the excitement.

Subject Headings: Mudgett, Herman W. 1861-1896. Burnham, Daniel Hudson, 1846-1912. Serial murderers – Illinois – Chicago – Biography. Serial murders – Illinois – Chicago – Case studies. World’s Columbian Exposition (1893; Chicago, Ill.)

Appeal: Compelling, historical details, well-researched, suspenseful, disturbing, gritty, detailed setting, uneasy, character-centered, engrossing, psychological

Three appeal terms:  Historical details, well-researched, compelling

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

City for Ransom by Robert W. Walker

City for Ransom is a fictional tale of a killer on the loose during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Inspector Alastair Ransom must locate the killer who is using the bustling fairgrounds as a distraction to get away with murder, before the inspector becomes a victim himself.

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas J. Preston

For readers who like a suspenseful read about a serial killer, I suggest The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas J. Preston. It’s written in a gritty style similar to The Devil in the White City, and details a copycat serial killer who begins overtaking New York City using methods similar to that of a killer in the 1880s. Together, FBI agent Pendergast, journalist Bill Smithback, and archaeologist Nora Kelly work to solve the case – and keep themselves alive.

Wakefield by Andrei Codrescu

Readers who enjoyed the architectural aspects of the Devil in the White City might enjoy this story of an architecture enthusiast who winds up on a journey to understand his purpose in life and continue to explore his love of architecture.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The World’s Columbian Exposition: the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 by Norman Bolotin and Christine Laing

I suggest this book to readers who enjoyed reading about the Chicago World’s Fair in The Devil in the White City and are looking to learn more about the fair. This book provides a visual history of the fair with stunning panoramic images of the fair’s splendors, including the landscaping, waterways and gondolas, and the structures that were designed and built just for the fair. The authors cover every concept of the history of the fair from its very beginnings to its lasting impact and all of the details in between.

Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago by Harold Schechter

Those who wish to learn more about notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes can check out this true crime story about the madman who carried out acts of torture and murders in his own “Castle of Horrors.” Schechter chronicles Holmes’ methods of luring victims by posing at different times as a doctor, druggist, and inventor, and the design of his torture chamber that included trapdoors, body chutes, and acid vats.

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War by James Mauro

Readers that enjoyed the history of the Chicago World’s Fair in The Devil in the White City might enjoy reading about another famous fair in history – the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. As Europe prepared for war overseas, the Big Apple prepared to throw a big party, which met with less than stellar success. Mauro recounts the festivities that brought out 45 million people, even among big rain storms, heat waves, and power outages. This book has much of the same historical appeal as The Devil in the White City, but not as strong a focus on the crime scene.

Name: Melissa Apple

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

Devil in a Blue Dress

October 17, 2012


Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Mosley, Walter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: 1948, Post WWII

Series: Easy Rawlins

Plot Summary: Set in Los Angeles in 1948, this gritty novel follows Ezekiel Rawlins who goes by Easy.  An African-American WWII veteran, Easy just wants to enjoy his life and hold onto the house he worked so hard to get but he has just lost his factory job.  Easy tries to forget his troubles at his friend Joppy’s bar when he is offered money by the mysterious, white gentleman DeWitt Albright.  All he has to do is track down French beauty Daphne Monet, a lady who is said to frequent black jazz clubs, and he will have enough money to pay this month’s mortgage.  But what starts out as a straightforward mission leads to increasing danger and threats to his life.  With bodies piling up and the police eager to pin the crimes on him, Easy must find Daphne and solve this mystery in order to stay alive.  Winner of the Shamus best P.I. novel award and the first in the Easy Rawlins series, this book introduces a complex and engaging protagonist who goes from reluctant to empowered private investigator while also dealing with racial tensions during the 1940’s Los Angeles.  Mystery lovers can enjoy this private investigator novel that looks at social issues while also delivering an atmospheric, evocative story that has the feel of a film noir.  They can also watch the movie version of this starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

Subject Headings: African-American Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Los Angeles, California, Private Investigators, Race Relations, Rawlins, Easy, African American Men, Organized Crime, Missing persons investigation, The Forties (20th century), Gangsters, Political Corruption

Appeal: Builds in intensity Pacing, Edgy, Character-driven, Suspenseful, Intriguing Characters, Well-drawn Characters, Gritty, Historical Details, Issue-oriented, Stark, Investigative, Thought-provoking, Strong Language, Time period dialect, Atmospheric, Evocative

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Gritty, Historical details, Investigative

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

Set against the racially tense backdrop of Memphis in 1968, this historical mystery follows the activities of African-American private investigator Smokey Dalton.  He finds out that he is the recipient of $10,000 through rich,white Chicago heiress Laura Hathaway’s mother’s will.  Laura wants to know why Smokey was named the beneficiary, as does Smokey.  This search for answers leads to danger and mysteries for Smokey.  Another historical mystery novel that features an engaging African-American private detective narrator, while also offering an atmospheric story that deals with racial issues.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

In this noir fiction set in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, the story follows three troubled LAPD officers Ed Exley, Bud White and Jack “Trashcan” Vincennes as they deal with crime, corruption and violence over a 10-year period.  Enjoy this mystery novel that deals with corruption and violence during a similar time period.  Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this was made into a movie.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In this classic noir novel, San Francisco detective Sam Spade must deal with his partner being killed in a stakeout, a valuable statue of a falcon being wanted, the appearance and disappearance of a mysterious redhead and enemies demanding a payoff that Sam does not have.  The stakes are high and Sam must figure out how to get out of this mess and get some answers.  Here is the go-to novel for a gritty, noir detective story.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein

If you want to delve a bit deeper into some of the racial issues explored in Devil in a Blue Dress, try this book that explores three American families whose self-identified race shifted from black to white over the years.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Delve even deeper into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles from the1920s through the 1960s.  It dives into the world of crime, corruption, and violence along with the racial tensions of the city.  This book is suggested for those who wanted more details regarding the historical setting presented in Devil in a Blue Dress.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia by Alan Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio

Did you enjoy the book as well as the movie?  Then try this encyclopedia that covers film noirs in detail.  It explores the themes and motifs of the genre, while featuring pictures and stills of the movies and their stars.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Secrets of the Lost Summer

October 3, 2012

cover

Author: Carla Neggers

Title: Secrets of the Lost Summer

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 344

Geographical Setting: Swift River Valley- New England

Time Period: Present day and 1938 (historical flashbacks)

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

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

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

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

Three Fiction Read-Alikes

Juliet by Anne Fortier

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

Moving Target by Elizabeth Lowell

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

The Treasure by Iris Johansen

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

Three Nonfiction Read-Alikes

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

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

Quabbin Valley: People and Places by Elizabeth Peirce

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

Quabbin: A History and Explorers Guide by Michael Tougias

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

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

The Postmistress

September 26, 2012

Author: Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Franklin, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod) and war-torn Europe

Time Period: Fall 1940 – Summer 1941

Plot Summary: Set in the early 1940s when World War II was raging in Europe, The Postmistress interweaves the stories of three women as their lives are touched by the war. Iris James, the single, 40-year-old postmistress in the coastal town of Franklin, Massachusetts, prides herself in delivering the mail (what she considers delivering secrets). That is, until one day when she reads a letter that she slips into her pocket, where it remains undelivered. Meanwhile, Iris quietly observes the town doctor’s new wife, Emma Trask, as she desperately waits for word from her new husband who ran off to London to offer his services to victims of the war. Both Iris and Emma tune into the radio to listen to American radio girl Frankie Bard as she reports from the London Blitz and other areas in Europe and shares her dramatic personal accounts of the terrors she witnesses. On the eve of America’s entrance into the war, the stories of Iris, Emma, and Frankie collide when Frankie returns to the Cape Cod town with a vow to deliver a secret letter…

Subject Headings: Postmasters – Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Massachusetts—Franklin—Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Radio broadcasting and the war—Fiction; London (England)—History—Bombardment, 1940-1941—Fiction.

Appeal: Character-centered, historical details, unsettling, descriptive, small-town, detailed setting, lyrical, dramatic, engrossing, tragic, romantic, leisurely-paced, well-developed characters

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, historical details and setting, dramatic

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Another historical fiction novel set during the time period of World War II, Sarah’s Key will appeal to fans of The Postmistress because of its similar historical context, character-driven storyline, and lyrical style. In Sarah’s Key, a family history full of secrets is unraveled as American journalist Julia Jarmond investigates the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, and learns about the ordeal of a young girl named Sarah who was arrested with her family during this raid by the French police during the war.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

The book 22 Britannia Road is another historical fiction read that takes place during World War II. Similar to The Postmistress, this book is character-centered, and tells the stories of different characters whose lives are connected in some way. It allows the readers to connect with these characters and understand the impact of the war on each of their lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A suggested readalike for Sarah Blake, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in London at the end of the Second World War, and focuses on writer Juliet Ashton as she seeks a subject for her next book. When she begins correspondence with a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a book club formed when Guernsey was under German occupation) Juliet is drawn into the world of the society’s members and ends up making connections that change her life forever. This is another title with a set of well-developed characters whose stories are told through a series of letters. Through the letters Juliet exchanges with the members, the reader learns details about each member and how the German occupation impacted their lives.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

World War II London Blitz Diary by Ruby Side Thompson

This diary is the personal account of Ruby Side Thompson’s experiences during the World War Two London Blitz. Ruby’s detailed entries chronicle her struggles to cope in a war-torn city where bombs were being dropped nightly while still having to deal with the issues of everyday life. This book offers readers a unique look at this horrific time in history through the eyes of someone who fought to survive through it.  I chose this title because it provides a non-fiction account of World War II, but has appeal for readers of The Postmistress because of its focus on a person and the connection of viewing the war from her point of view. I felt it would have a more lyrical style and be more enticing than just a dry, factual account of events.

Letters from the lost: a memoir of discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes

Author Helen Waldstein Wilkes’ parents were among the few Jews who were able to leave Europe in 1938. In this emotional memoir, Wilkes reveals the letters that were written between her parents and the family they had to leave behind. This book provides a compelling glimpse into this tragic time in history through the personal letters of those who witnessed the horrors firsthand, and I feel would be relevant to readers of The Postmistress for the connection to the characters (in this case actual people witnessing the war), and for the historical elements of World War II.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Erik Larson, the best-selling author of Devil in the White City, writes this compelling narrative about the city of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign. The story focuses on William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his daughter, Martha, who becomes mesmerized by the glamorous lifestyles of Berlin’s salon society.  This relates to The Postmistress with its subject of World War II, and the character-centered appeal. Also, because it is written by a best-selling author, this fact alone might intrigue readers who are interested in this time in history.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

300

August 8, 2012

300

August 8, 2012

300

Author: Frank Miller

Title: 300

Genre: Historical Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 88

Geographical Setting: Sparta

Time Period: Ancient Greece

Plot Summary: This is a historical fiction graphic novel which tells the tale of the brave Spartan 300. Led by their King, Leonidas, they fought alone against the invading Persian army. The Persians led by Xerxes, numbering over a hundred-thousand strong, are repelled at the battle of Thermopylae by the Spartan 300. Brilliant illustrations abound in this epic graphic novel.

Subject Headings: Ancient Greece – Graphic Novel; Sparta — Graphic Novel; Historical– Fiction; War – Graphic Novel

Appeal: Bloody, Historical, Thrilling, Action, Diabolical, Dangerous, Dark, War-torn, Suspenseful, Brilliant, Fast-Paced, Artistic

Three appeal terms:  Bloody, Historical, Dark

Three fiction read-alikes:

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

This graphic novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic totalitarian England. It follows a man donned in a Guy Fawkes mask that uses terrorist style attacks to bring down a regime that holds the nation hostage. It has themes of freedom and the loss of one’s identity.

Kick-Ass by Mark Millar

This graphic novel follows Dave Lizewski, a teen-ager, who decides to become an actual super-hero. Go with Dave on his crazy adventures as he turns into the hero Kick-Ass and teams up with vigilantes Big Daddy and Hit Girl as they try to take down a ruthless-gangster.

The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel by Sean Michael Wilson

This graphic novel is the illustrated adaptation of the great samurai Musashi Miyamoto’s work: The Book of Five Rings. It is a guide, not only of strategy and the samurai way, but also a look into the battles that Musashi himself fought.

Three related non-fiction titles:

Complete Maus: A Survivors Tale by Art Spiegelman

This graphic novel is a look at the horrifying holocaust brought about by the Nazi’s in World War II. Following the story of the author’s father, Vladek Speigelman, and his son (author) coping with his father’s story of surviving the holocaust. In the novel the Nazis are drawn as cats and the Jews are mice.

Nevsky by Ben McCool

This graphic novel is the true account of one of Russia’s greatest heroes Alexander Nevsky. It follows his great exploits where he helped to create a Russian nation by defending his country against the Teutonic Knights from the Holy Roman Empire. With his army of mostly ordinary citizens Nevsky defeats the invading knights at the battle of Lake Peipus while greatly out-numbered.

Onwards Towards our Noble Deaths byShigeru Mizuki

This graphic novel is a semi-biographic look at a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War II. These soldiers were instructed to follow the samurai way and go into battle and die a hero’s death for the greater glory of Japan. Refusal to do this also meant death, what will they do?

– Charles Ford

Watchmen

August 8, 2012

Author:  Alan Moore; illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Title:  Watchmen

Genre:  Graphic Novel, Superhero

Publication Date:  Originally published as a 12 issue comic book miniseries in 1986 – 1987.

Number of Pages:  Complete paperback edition — 408

Geographical Setting:  Various parts of the United States, Vietnam, Antarctica, Mars.

Time Period:  Alternate History 1985; several flashbacks dating back to the 1940’s.

Plot Summary:  In Alan Moore’s groundbreaking and influential graphic novel, masked crime fighters have existed since the 1940’s, and their presence has greatly influenced the outcome of world events.  Thanks to Dr. Manhattan (an atomic being who is also the  only character with actual superpowers), the United States has won the Vietnam War and in the present 1985, Richard Nixon is still president.  Now, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, and someone just murdered Edward Blake, a former superhero and notorious CIA operative known as The Comedian.  As Rorschach, a psychotic vigilante and former member of Watchmen (a later superhero team which included The Comedian, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias) investigates Blake’s murder, he uncovers a plot that could save the world from annihilation, but, at an unimaginable price.  By presenting superheroes with very real and tragic human flaws, Moore deconstructs the superhero genre, and presents the reader with a familiar world that is both rich in detail, and terribly bleak.

Subject Headings:  Heroes — Comic books, strips, etc. ; Assassins — Comic books, strips, etc.; Imaginary histories — Comic books, strips, etc

Appeal:  Compelling, densely written, atmospheric, bleak, contemplative, foreboding, gritty, paranoid, philosophical, sophisticated, strong secondary characters, vivid, well-developed, cinematic, episodic, investigative, layered, multiple plot lines, open-ended, thought-provoking, detailed setting, urban, well-crafted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Character-centered, complex,  multiple point of views

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Kick-Ass – Written by Mark Millar; Illustrated by John Romita Jr.

Dave Lizewski is a comic book-obsessed teenager who decides he wants to become a superhero in real life.  Putting on a green costume and calling himself, Kick-Ass, Dave hits the streets.  But, he quickly discovers that the real world has consequences far more frightening and brutally violent, than the than the heroic adventures in his favorite comic books.  Both Kick-Ass and Watchmen deconstruct the superhero genre, and illustrate just how physically and emotionally taxing it is to be a masked crime-fighter in the real world.

2)  The Boys – Written by Garth Ennis; Illustrated by Darick Robertson

In this ongoing and darkly-humored series, superheroes exist in the real world but most of them are corrupt, amoral, and only care about their celebrity status and hedonistic lifestyles.  Their heroic actions, which are staged for the media by a ruthless corporation known as Vought-American, not only result in massive collateral damage, but also puts the very existence of the world at risk.  Because of this, “The Boys,” a super-powered CIA team is charged with monitoring and policing the superhero community.  Again, both Watchmen and The Boys deconstruct the superhero genre by presenting superheroes as deeply flawed and corrupt individuals.

3)  The Dark Knight Returns – Written and illustrated by Frank Miller

In a dystopian future, a sixty-something Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement by putting on the cape and cowl to once again rid Gotham City of crime, corruption, as well as a vicious new gang known as “The Mutants.”  With the aid of a new female Robin, named Carrie Kelly, Batman resurfaces in a world where masked crime-fighters have been outlawed, and the only superhero who is able to legally operate is Superman, a puppet for the Reagan white house.  Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were released around the same time, and have both garnered massive and well-deserved acclaim.  Both also take place in dystopian settings where superheroes have been outlawed, and feature characters who find redemption by coming out of retirement.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human by Grant Morrison

Groundbreaking comic book author, Grant Morrison, muses on the genre of superheroes and how its characters have become permanent fixtures in our modern-day mythologies.  This is a great companion which examines the role superheroes play in our daily lives.

2)  Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen by various authors

Twelve different authors present their observations and analyses of the many plot points, themes, and symbolic imagery of Watchmen.  This makes for an excellent companion to Moore’s graphic novel.

3)  Alan Moore:  Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge

Another excellent companion to Watchmen, this book offers an in-depth retrospective of the life and prolific career of comic book author, Alan Moore.  Moore’s creative process is examined, and a behind the scenes look is given of some of his most popular and influential works.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer