Posts Tagged ‘humor’

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

August 1, 2012

Author: Pearl Cleage

Title: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Idlewild, Michigan

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  No

Plot Summary: After an event filled life in Atlanta, Ava Johnson finds that she is HIV positive. On her move to San Francisco, Ava decides to make a stopover in her childhood town of Idlewild, Michigan to visit her widowed sister Joyce Mitchell. Idlewild was once an idyllic lakeside getaway for African-American families in northern Michigan, but now resembles a rundown rural town crushed by the big city troubles of drugs, crime, abuse and teen pregnancies. Ever positive and upbeat, action oriented Joyce sweeps Ava along with her as they work to turn the fortunes of Idlewild around. The writing reflects an authentic and warm relationship between Ava and Joyce. Using humor and straightforward language, the characters are well-drawn and the events are realistic. Some profanity and sexual situations are part of the story, but also reflect the reality of the grim situations depicted. This is a disquieting yet hopeful account of how strong and positive relationships between friends and family can change things for the better.

Subject Headings: African American Women – Fiction, AIDS (Disease) – Patients – Michigan – Fiction, City and town life – Michigan – Fiction, Michigan – Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, measured pacing, dramatic, evocative, hopeful, humor, romantic, sobering, thoughtful, character-driven, flawed, issue-oriented, racy, strong language, contemporary, rural, accessible, conversational, profanity, candid

3 terms that best describe this book: Candid, character-driven, hopeful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Austin, Lynn N. A Woman’s Place; This is a character-driven issue-oriented story that revolves around the lives of four disparate women who work at the Seneca Shipyards in Michigan during WWII.Virginia, Helen, Rosa, and Jean form an enduring bond of support and encouragement during challenging times, just as Joyce and Ava do.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God; This character-driven narrative conveys the story of Janie Crawford, a young southern African American woman living in the 1930s. Her journey echoes the lives of Ava and Joyce who come to understand that life is best lived when time is taken to listen and learn from both the good and the bad choices people have made.

McMillan, Terry. The Interruption of Everything; Girlfriends and family come together to rally around Marilyn Grimes, a 44 year-old African-American mother of three college age children and one boring husband. This group of strong women encourage and support each other as they grapple with contemporary issues using humor and hope.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Apter, Terri. SisterKnot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What; This authoritative and insightful book explores the relationships between sisters and female friends reflecting much of the history and evolution that Ava and Joyce experience.

Millner, Denene. The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life; This book tackles issues facing  contemporary African-American women with humor and insight, not unlike the Statement of Purpose composed by Joyce and Ava that lists the 10 things every free woman should know.

Sherman, Charlotte Watson, (Ed). Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; A collection of 50 poems and short stories about African-American women written by notable African-American writers. The text explores, often in vivid detail and graphic language, many contemporary issues facing African-American women today echoing many of the issues faced by characters in What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.

Name: Patty Daniel

Judge and Jury by James Patterson

July 25, 2011

Author: James Patterson

Title: Judge and Jury

Genre: Suspense

Legal Thriller

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 421

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: FBI agent Nick Pellisante after a long chase finally brought to the trial a mob godfather, Dominic Cavello. One of the jurors selected for the court case against Cavello is Andie DeGrasse, a single mom and jobless actress. She does not even want to serve her jury duty, and her destiny takes her way beyond that. As soon as the trial starts, things go horribly wrong. Cavello sends an assassin to put the bus with all jurors on fire, and then escapes. Nick with an unexpected partner goes for a deadly chase after Cavello. This story has multiple plot twists and it will keep the reader on the edge of the seat. Short chapters and witty language splattered with some humor will make it a fast and entertaining read. Fans of Suspense will appreciate the sense of menace as Cavello and his people take unpredictable actions.

Subject Headings: Mafia trials – New York – Fiction; Women jurors – Fiction; Organized crime – Fiction; Suspense fiction

Appeal: plot-driven, fast paced, suspenseful, entertaining, dramatic, humor, chase, tense, deadly threat, sympathetic protagonists, villains, sense of menace, short chapters, alternating points of view, plot twist, uneasy atmosphere, roller-coaster style, resolved ending

3 terms that best describe this book: fast paced, suspenseful, entertaining

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gotti: Rise and Fall by Jerry Capeci – while Cavello appears to be “the most vicious and powerful mobster since John Gotti” (, this book pictures the real Gotti and the New York organized crime; like in Patterson’s novel, bringing the mobster to justice is extremely challenging

A Trial by Jury by Graham D. Burnett – this true crime memoir of an ordinary citizen who serves as a juror on a New York’s murder trial explores in depth a situation in which Andie became involuntarily thrown

We’re Going to Win this Thing: The Shocking Frame-up of a Mafia Crime Buster by Lin DeVecchio – true story so unbelievable it reads like a fiction thriller; fans of Nick Pellisante may appreciate his efforts even more after reading a shocking story of an FBI agent framed for New York mafia crimes while trying to bring the mafia to justice

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Firm by John Grisham – like Judge and Jury it is a fast paced, plot-driven, and suspenseful legal thriller about the mafia chased by FBI

I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark – suspenseful, plot-driven page turner; the same setting – modern day New York

The Jury Master by Robert Dugoni – this Suspense/Legal thriller is fast paced, plot-driven, and with a sense of malice; like in Patterson’s novel the focus is more on non-stop action rather than legal details

Name: Anna Demitraszek

Shop Class As Soulcraft

April 7, 2010

Author: Matthew B. Crawford

Title: Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication date: 2009

Number of pages: 246

Geographical setting: United States

Time period: 1970s – 2009

Plot summary: At age 14 Matthew Crawford was apprenticing as an electrician while living in a commune. Later he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and became director of a Washington think tank. Six months later he quit and opened his own motorcycle repair shop. Though not an autobiography, Crawford uses the twists and turns and the experience of his own life, along with philosophical, psychological and sociological theory and literature, to illustrate the importance of working with your hands. Not only does this work make one useful, the tangibility of the work creates a satisfaction that is fulfilling and addictive. Throughout the text Crawford relates stories of working on and riding motorcycles. While motorcycle enthusiasts will enjoy the inside look at repair and restoration, this book will appeal to anyone in the trades or who values working with his or her hands — and especially those who don’t like their current job.

Subject headings: Work; Purpose in life; Job satisfaction; Quality of work life

Appeal: humor, philosophical, deliberate, insightful, inspiring, informative, sophisticated, thoughtful, engaging, passionate, hopeful, authoritative

3 terms that best describe this book: philosophical; practical; intriguing

Similar works:
The Craftsman by Richard Sennett | A basic human need is to do a job well. Sennett explains why craftsmanship is the embodiment of this impulse but frames it in a context wider than just skilled manual labor to include computer programming, the medical field, and more.

The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker by Mike Rose | Looking at American labor, Rose reassesses the use of intellect in blue collar work. Across the board he finds intellect is required much more than we think, and he redefines old notions of manual labor, from plumbing to hair-dressing.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig | In 1965, Persig and his son loaded up a Honda motorcycle and spent a summer riding around America’s Northwest. The result was a book that looks at life and the value systems in which we live.

40 Hour Man by Stephen Beaupre | A hilarious, illustrated look at the low-wage American Dream in action. Follow the “hero ” as he works a series of nowhere jobs in this book that reads similar to a graphic novel.

After Hours at the Almost Home by Tara Yellen | It’s Super Bowl Sunday at the Amost Home Bar and Grill. During the game, we get a glimpse into the lives of the waitstaff as they each struggle to find satisfaction in work and life.

Somewhere Fast by Bob Beltz | What do you do when you have the perfect life as a doctor in Chicago? Run away. John Calvin rides his Harley on a spiritual journey down Route 66 to find himself.

Name: Jason J. Lamb

True Betrayals

March 31, 2010

Author: Nora Roberts

Title: True Betrayals

Genre: Romance / Suspense

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 400

Geographical Setting: Washington DC, Virginia, Southeastern states

Time Period: Present time

Series: Not part of a series

Plot Summary: Kelsey Byden lived the past 26 years surrounded by privilege, the arts, a wonderful education…everything a WASP could dream of. All of that comes to a halt when she receives a letter from her mother, her mother who died 23 years before, or so she thought. Kelsey decides to get to know this lost parent and moves to her horse farm. There she must face truths about the past – her own and her family’s. Enamoured with a new love of horses, her mother and a pushy (but sexy) neighbor Kelsey must fight to defend that when someone wants to bring that all down at any cost.

Subject Headings: Romance, Southern United States, Intrigue, Secrets, Horse Racing

Appeal: Love and romance, humor, mysterious, flashbacks, calculated, page turner, introspective, coming of age

3 terms that best describe this book: Insightful, passionate, gripping

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1. The Home Run Horse: Inside America’s Billion-Dollar Racehorse Industry and the High-Stakes Dreams that Fuel It by Glenye Cain  (Cain takes the reader from the winner’s circle to the stall, detailing what goes into horse racing and how it came to be the staple that it is; horse racing, true stories, humor, history)

2. Making Peace With Your Mom: Steps to a Healthier Mother-Daughter Relationship by H. Norman Wright (Wright helps readers come to terms with their mothers mistakes and rewrite their future relationship; self realization, mother-daughter relationships, making peace with the past)

3. Beyond the Homestretch: What I’ve Learned from Saving Racehorses by Lynn Reardon (Reardon writes about how adopting and rehabilitating horses changed her life and goals; horse racing, true stories, introspective, self realization)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1. Showdown by Tilly Bagshawe (Bobby Cameron takes a job training horses in England and must battle Milly every day to see who is the real trainer; love, humor, horse racing, family relationships)

2. The Chesapeake Diaries: Coming Home by Mariah Stewart (Grady and Vanessa help each other battle inner demons and uncover mysteries of the past; surprise love, determined woman, self-discovery, love, mystery)

3. Family Secrets: A Novel by Judith Henry Wall (Follow three sisters as the uncover the mysterious death of their grandmother and try to save their mother and their lives; love, mystery, family relationships, self-discovery)

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

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

June 8, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Genre: Bestseller, Fantasy, Parody
Publication Date: 2009
Number of Pages: 319p
Geographical Setting: England, The Lake District
Time Period: mid-1800s

Plot Summary: England has been stricken with a strange and unavoidable plague.  The five daughters of the Bennett family, who are trained in the fine art of slaying the unmentionables, would like to find love in the village of Meryton.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes Jane Austen’s story of love, deception and honor, and throws in, well, zombies, to give the story a whole new doomsday twist.  Elizabeth Bennett is put off by Mr. Darcy’s snobbery and arrogant attitude towards the Bennett’s, even as they slay zombies at Mr. Bingley’s dinner party.  The Bingley family, the Bennetts, and the Darcy’s continue to meet at society events throughout the country and the quarantined city of London; upon Darcy’s unexpected wedding proposal, Elizabeth must practice her ninja training skills to defend her honor.  Grahame-Smith adds the undead to Ms. Austen’s classic, taking a fresh (or not so fresh) look at Regent society.

Subject Headings: Bennett, Elizabeth (Fictitious Character), Darcy, Fitzwilliam (Fictitious Character), Zombies—Fiction, Young Women—England, Social Classes—England, Family—England, Sisters, Courtship, England, Parodies

Parody, humor, dark, classical, emotional, action-packed, absurd, witty, fast-paced, wry, satire, romantic.

3 terms that best describe this book:
Brisk, satirical, fun

Similar Authors and Works :
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Jane Austen for Dummies by Joan Elizabeth Kingel Ray (Describes the world of Austen)
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks (parody survival guide for zombie attacks)
The Black Death: A Chronicle of the Plague by Johannes Nohl (the effects of the plague on Europe)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Austenland by Shannon Hale (young woman retreats to an “Austen resort” to fulfill her love of Mr. Darcy)
World War Z by Max Brooks (An account of the world after zombies take over)
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (Dickensian parody of a Christmas mystery)

Name: Katy A. Hite