Posts Tagged ‘informal’

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

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.

Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

August 13, 2012

Author: Hadjii

Title: Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

Genre: African American Biography

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 219 p.

Geographical Setting: Georgia

Time Period: 1980s and 1990s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This fast-paced, character-driven, and humorous autobiography consists of stories from Hadjii’s childhood and teenage years.  Throughout the autobiography, Hadjii covers many interesting situations, like attending a predominantly white school, relating to his traditional parents, going to family parties, visiting church on Sundays, celebrating Christmas, drinking for the first time, taking a test for AIDS, and getting his first job.  In the author’s note, Hadjii admits that some parts of the autobiography are true while others are not although one consistent theme throughout many of the stories is Hadjii’s highlighting of the differences between people who are black and white.  In each chapter, Hadjii’s first-person language and voice are clear.  He is chatty and frank, and he uses this voice to plainly describe and comment on situations and characters from his early years.  Unlike many autobiographies, Hadjii’s story is not tragic or sentimental, but is sarcastic, critical, perceptive, and generally optimistic.  Nonetheless, even though the tone throughout the autobiography is generally light, Hadjii’s sharp observations often present deeper perspectives on issues, especially regarding being a black American growing up in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.

Subject Headings: African-American Families; African-American Young Men; African-Americans; Family and Relationships; The Eighties (20th Century); The Nineties (20th Century); Southern States – Social Life and Customs; Southern States – Race Relations; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing; Memoirs;

Appeal: fast-paced, candid, contemplative, edgy, exuberant, humorous, introspective, playful, thoughtful, upbeat, closely observed, detailed, eccentric, lifelike, recognizable, and vivid primary and secondary characters, character-centered, episodic, family-centered, issue-oriented, strong language, thought-provoking, evocative, small-town, accessible, chatty, colorful, concise, conversational, descriptive, direct, frank, informal

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: frank, funny, episodic

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who are looking for another character-driven reflection about family and relationships in a small town in Georgia.  Although Bailey White recounts these stories as an adult and does not include an African- American perspective as in Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, readers of Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White will appreciate her humorous episodic tales, closely observed and eccentric characters, and conversational dialogue throughout the novel.

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who desire another autobiography that highlights family, relationships, and race relations in the United States.  Even though the tone and style ofLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams is far more serious and formal thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, both autobiographies focus on how race affected their childhood and teenage years.  Another difference, however, is thatLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams takes place in Indiana in the 1960s unlike Hadjii’s upbringing in Georgia in the 1980s and 1990s.

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii because it too is a satiric memoir that humorously focuses on perceptions and stereotypes that people have about African Americans in the United States.  Similar toDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, Thurston tries to present a more nuanced and detailed impression of race relations and his background of growing up and living in America, and like Hadjii, Thurston deemphasizes the need for every black individual to represent his or her entire race.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about an African American, Betsey Brown, growing up in a middle-class family and dealing with race relations in the United States.  Although the novel is set in Missouri in the late 1950s, Betsey is dealing with many of the same family issues as Hadjii inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried MemoirAlthough Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange is more poetic and atmospheric thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii too, it also is episodic and frankly humorous in many sections and contains a compelling story.

Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about African-American families, friends, and neighbors in a small town.  Although the book is more sentimental in tone and takes place in Oklahoma, as inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii,Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper contains multiple stories told by humorous main characters in a witty and lyrical style.

The Thang That Ate My Grandaddy’s Dog by John Calvin Rainey will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another humorous novel about a young African-American boy, Johnny Woodside, growing up in a small town in Florida.  Like Hadjii, Johnny tells many stories about his adventures and the friends and family that he relates to on a regular basis as he learns many lessons about life.

Chyna Black by Keisha Ervin

August 13, 2012

 Author:  Keisha Ervin

Title:  Chyna Black

Genre:  African American, Urban Lit

Publication Date:  2004

Number of Pages:  259

Geographical Setting:  St. Louis, Missouri

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Seventeen-year-old Chyna Black catches the eye of Tyriek James, a handsome 22-year-old drug dealer living a life filled with fast cars, expensive jewelry, and designer name clothes.  Unheeding her girlfriends’ advice that Tyriek is nothing but trouble, Chyna is blinded by her passion and pursues a relationship with him, forsaking everything else.  Chyna, infatuated and caught up in his lifestyle, goes from straight-A student to high school dropout, begins to isolate herself from her friends, and gets thrown out of her mother’s house.  Although things go well for a while between her and Tyriek, their relationship soon becomes fraught with jealousy, infidelity, violent physical and emotional abuse, passionate make-up sex, and insincere promises of devotion.  Chyna learns all too late the unhealthiness of their relationship, returns to her mother’s house, and begins dating an old boyfriend, LP, who gets her pregnant.  Without LP’s support, she decides to keep the baby and get her life back on track by getting a job and her GED.  One year later, at her daughter’s first birthday, Tyriek reappears with new promises of devotion.  Chyna Black is a fast-paced, gritty tale of urban fiction written in a raw, conversational style that is heavy with dialect and loaded with profanity.  Chyna and Tyriek’s relationship is a maelstrom of drama and passionate eroticism that is sure to engage readers who enjoy these elements.

Subject Headings:  African American Teenage Girls; Inner City Life; Teenage Pregnancy; High School Dropouts; Drug Dealers; Unhealthy Relationships; Responsibility; Coming-of-Age Stories

Appeal:  Conversational, informal, unpretentious, authentic, raw, gritty, dialect-rich, sexually explicit, strong language, erotic, romantic, melodramatic, hopeful, inspiring, fast-paced, open-ended

3 terms that best describe this book:  Dialect-rich, raw, and strong language

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Dear Diary, I’m Pregnant: Ten Real Life Stories by Anrenee Englander

This book is a collection of candid interviews with ten teenage girls from various socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and faiths about their experiences with pregnancy.  The girls’ stories also touch on topics such as abortion, adoption, and deciding to keep their babies.  This title is suggested to those who want to read true-life stories about teenage pregnancies after reading about Chyna’s experiences.

2)  A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

A harrowing yet inspiring memoir of how the author overcame her history of childhood neglect, abject poverty, trauma, rape, prostitution, gang affiliation, and substance abuse and became a California attorney and motivational speaker.  Like Chyna Black, this is a gritty, raw, and inspiring story of an African American woman taking back control of her life.

3)  Brothers (and Me): A Memoir of Loving and Giving by Donna Britt

An honest and introspective memoir about how the author, growing up as the only daughter in a middle-class African American family, sacrificed her own ambitions and self-identity for the men in her life: her three brothers, her father, her boyfriends, and her husband.  After the police shoot and kill one of her brothers, she reflects on the ways in which she has continually given of herself to others at the expense of her own individuality.  Chyna Black comes to a similar realization when she breaks things off with Tyreik and begins to take responsibility for her future.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Every Thug Needs a Lady by Wahida Clark

Roz puts her personal aspirations of becoming a physical therapist aside when she meets and gets involved with Trae, a drug dealer.  She soon realizes the cost of getting into a relationship with a gangster.  Every Thug Needs a Lady and Chyna Black are similar urban tales of young African American women blinded by their passion for handsome, wealthy thugs at the expense of everything else.

2)  Black: A Street Tale by Tracy Brown

When her mother throws her out of the house, 17-year-old Kaia is forced to live on the streets.  Trying desperately just to survive, she meets and gets involved in relationship with a local hoodlum named Aaron.  Although this relationship changes her life, she questions whether it has changed for the better or if it is stifling her freedom.  Suggested to readers looking for another story about a young African American teenage girl who is thrown out of her home and becomes romantically involved with a dangerous man.

3)  Push by Sapphire

Sixteen-year-old Precious Jones lives in a severely abusive household where her father routinely rapes her and her mother emotionally and physically abuses her.  When she finds herself pregnant with her father’s child for the second time, she enrolls in an alternative school in Harlem to overcome her illiteracy.  Her teacher, Blue Rain, encourages and pushes her to learn how to read and write.  By learning these skills, Precious is able to find an outlet for communicating her tragic existence.  Push is suggested to readers looking for a grittier, bleaker, and more harrowing tale of a pregnant African American teenage girl gaining the confidence she needs to confront the adversity and trauma she has suffered.

Name:  Zach Musil

Fifty Shades of Grey

August 1, 2012

Author: E.L James

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

Genre: Romance; Erotica

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 514

Geographical Setting: Seattle, WA

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: 1st vol. in Fifty Shades Trilogy

Plot Summary: As Anastasia Steele is about to graduate from college she meets twenty-seven-year old, CEO Christian Grey. Steele is bookish and does not have a lot of experience with men, but for the first time in her life, Steele has finally found a man that sweeps her off her feet. However, Grey is emotionally distant and has a dark past that he will not discuss. In order to have a relationship with him, Anastasia has to sign a contract agreeing to engage in a BDSM relationship. Anastasia is unable to sign the contract for fear that she will be emotionally or physically wounded and longs for a traditional relationship. The first book ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the reader wondering if Grey and Anastasia will ever be able to reconcile their different desires and have a happy ending. Readers will be impatient to get their hands on the other two books in this trilogy and find out how this romance ends.

Subject Headings: College students — Fiction. Businesspeople — Fiction. Man-woman relationships — Fiction. Erotic fiction.

Appeal: measured, humorous, romantic, distant, dramatic, eccentric, steamy, strong language, informal

3 terms that best describes this book: episodic, character-centered, sexually explicit

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

Career Building through Fan Fiction Writing: New Work Based on Favorite Fiction, Miriam Segall

If you want to learn how to write stories based on your favorites books, TV shows, or video games, then this book will teach you the basics for writing successful fan fiction, and potentially turn writing into a career. E.L. James started out as a fan fiction writer and became a best selling author. If she has inspired you to try your hand at writing fan fiction, then this is a great book for you.

Kama Sutra: the Guide to the Art of Pleasure, V¯atsy¯ayana.

This 2,000-year-old Hindu instructional book for sex is considered to be the most famous work regarding erotic pleasure. If you enjoyed the steamy, sex scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey, and are looking for some inspiration, then check out this instructional guide to sex.

Seven Years to Seven Figures: the Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire, Michael Masterson

If Christian Grey inspired you to become a millionaire, check out Michael Masterson’s seven to step plan to become a millionaire in seven years or less. It will guide you on how to increase your yearly income, invest, and save wisely. Masterson’s book offers real life examples ofentrepreneurial success stories that will show you how to become a financial and business success.

3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Story of O, Pauline Reague

At her lover’s chateau, the female protagonist experiments with all sorts of sexual scenarios involving two different men. A book considered as racy as Fifty Shades of Grey, this is a great suggestion for a reader who is looking for a book as steamy, eccentric, and dramatic as E.L. James’s works.

Sweet Persuasion, Maya Banks

Serena has spent the past five years fulfilling the fantasies of her clients at Fantasy Incorporated. In that time she has been dreaming for her own fantasies to come true. When she meets Damon Roche, the owner of an exclusive sex club, she believes she has finally found the man she has been searching for. This is a book that shares a similar plot line as Fifty Shades of Grey, because both books deal with BDSM relationships. If you are searching for your next steamy, sexually explicit, and character centered story, then this is a good pick for you.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

A book that is frequently mentioned in Fifty Shades of Grey, Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a classic read that questions Victorian society and ideologies regarding sex. Tess Durbeyfield tries to align her self with her well-off d’Urberville side of the family, but she falls victim to her cousin, Alec, who forever tarnishes Tess’s chance at a happy ending. This book is less sexually explicit and lacks strong language, but it is a great read-a-like for someone who enjoys a character-centered story, a measured pace, and is dramatic like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Name: Alison Kulczak

Drinking at the Movies

April 18, 2012

Author: Julia Wertz

Title: Drinking at the Movies

Genre: Adult Graphic Novel, Biography

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 187

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Spring 2007 – New Year’s Eve 2008

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Julia Wertz is a twenty-four year old comic-book artist. Bored with San Francisco she finds herself making a bold decision by moving to New York. Using illustrations and journal-like writing, Drinking at the Movies is chronicle of Julia’s coming-of-age in New York. In an informal and friendly tone, Julia shares the story of moving away from home, trying to hold on to low-paying jobs, and living in four different apartments. She acknowledges and illustrates the more serious parts of her life, like her brother’s drug addiction, family illnesses, and her own drinking problem with humor. Julia’s introspective look at her behavior and her youthful rebellious approach to life and search for identity make this graphic novel an amusing and quick read.

Subject Headings: New York, Cartoonist, Identity, Coming-of-Age,

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, well-drawn, familiar, quirky characters, accessible, simple drawings, unpretentious, contemporary, do-it-yourself, linear story, attention to detail, informal, introspective, character-driven, first-person point of view, playful, artistic.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: humorous, fast-paced, simple drawings.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Life in a Jugular Vein by Ben Snakepit – Ben Snakepit writes autobiographical, humorous comic-strip style graphic novels. He records every day of his life in three frames, and gives each strip the a song of the day. Ben writes and draws about the monotony of his job, going on tour, trying to be a grown-up, punk rock, and drugs and alcohol. His characters are realistic and the language is accessible and simple.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince – Liz Prince writes an autobiographical graphic novel in a comic book style. She uses humor and illustrations to document her own coming-of-age and the relationship she is in.

Zinester’s Guide to NYC by Ayun Halliday – A zinester’s guide to New York City explores the area where Julia lived in and worked in. Similar to Julia’s Do-It-Yourself style, Zinester’s Guide to NYC is the work of over twenty people that have contributed to pages like “Pizza!” to give the reader an in-depth, real-life look at the city.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gingerbread Girl by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin – A coming of age story set in a city, Annah a twenty-somethings female in a big city is depicted in graphic novel format. Her friends, ex-boyfriends, and animals help to narrate her story for her in a witty attempt to find Annah’s identity.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – This humorous fiction graphic novel is a coming of age story about a man in his 20s. His girlfriend left him for New York, and he is left in Berkeley searching for his identity.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser – A linear story told with inserts of illustrated zines and letters, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing features a young man’s coming of age story. Fast-paced and humorous, the main character (Elliot) searches for meaning and his own identity in a punk house in D.C.

name: Jaymie

CBGB OMFUG

April 18, 2012

Author: Various (22 authors and illustrators collaborate for 9 vignettes)

Title: CBGB OMFUG

Genre: Graphic novel

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 112p

Geographical Setting: New York City (the Bowery)

Time Period: 1970’s, present day, the future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary:  Through nine separate vignettes, the history and lore of the legendary, mythical, pivotal, incredibly dirty, and defunct Lower East Side punk rock club is examined and explained.  CBGB’s was ground zero for the mid-70’s NYC punk rock scene.  Artists that would emerge from CBGB’s include Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, as well as lesser-known, yet highly influential acts, such as Television, the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators. Varying in time period, some of the stories use the club as a main character, while others use it merely as a backdrop or meeting place.  The common theme running throughout the book is that of CBGB’s as a fertile haven for inspiration, community, discovery, expression, freedom, individuality, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Subject Headings: Punk rock music, New York City—nightclubs, 1970’s, Artists, Drugs and alcohol, Rebellion, Nostalgia, Nonconformity, Antisocial behavior, Self discovery, Youth, Fandom.

Appeal:  Breakneck, fast-paced, relentless, atmospheric, edgy, flamboyant, gritty, hard-edged, humorous, impassioned, magical, idealized, romanticized, nostalgic, sarcastic, sensual, artsy, bohemian, punk, vivid, inspirational, mythic, sexually explicit, strong language, urban, colorful, informal, passionate, witty, hedonistic, rebellious, reflective, street-smart, rowdy, energetic, fun, aggressive, joyous, enigmatic, self-aggrandizing, loud.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Energetic, passionate, enigmatic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Please Kill Me: the Uncensored History of Punk edited by Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain

This is an oral history of the New York punk scene from its infancy in the early 1970’s to its slow death in the early 1980’s strung together by interviews with the people who were there and making things happen.  The people who are still alive, anyway.  Interviewees (many of whom are portrayed in CBGB) include Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and members of the Ramones, the Stooges, New York Dolls, Television, Blondie and many more artists and other scenesters.  This is a great read for fans of ribald accounts of debauchery and degeneracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle For the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler

In the 1970’s, large Northern cities found themselves broke, decaying, crime-ridden, and desperate.  None had it worse than New York.  The tumultuous year of 1977 is examined here; a year that included Son of Sam, the Blackout, punk rock, Studio 54 and disco, and ruthless political battles.  What is the conduit Mahler uses to examine and piece these events together?  — the World Series winning Yankees, of course.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes

Sure, New York had the punk thing happening in the mid-1970’s, but during those years the city also witnessed the birth of hip-hop, disco, and salsa as well as playing host to fertile jazz and avant-garde/minimalist music scenes.  Here is an examination of those years, where the music seemed to get better as the urban blight grew worse.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

My Brain Hurts: Vol. One by Liz Baille

This graphic novel series chronicles a group of gay,teenage New York punks making out, drinking beer, getting arrested, and flexing their gay activism muscles.  I include this as there was no mention in CBGB as to how entangled the NYC punk scene was with the seedier side of gay culture on Manhattan at the time (many a near destitute musician made rent by moonlighting as “chickens”, as in a homosexual prostitute who may not necessarily be gay but will do x for money.  Dee Dee Ramone has talked extensively about this topic [see: ‘53rd and 3rd by the Ramones], as well as others).

What We Do Is Secret by Kief Hillbery

Hollywood 13-year-old punk and gay hustler Rockets Redglare must come to terms with the suicide of his idol/guru Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (circa 1980).  This book is the closest equivalent to the seediness and nihilism that personified the L.A. punk scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s (as far as fiction goes.)

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

While this book is the farthest thing from the seediness that CBGB and the Lower Eastside personified, it is an excellent portrait of the feeling of freedom, possibility, and wonder that a night out in the big city can give a person as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and independence.  Even for rich kids from New Jersey.

Name: Bill

Fun Home

April 11, 2012

Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period:  1960’s – early 1980’s

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father.  It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references.  This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.

Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers;  Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.

Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Epileptic by David B.  This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium.  Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler.  This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships.  Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.

Running with Scissors by August Burroughs.  It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun HomeRunning with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Family Matter by Will Eisner.  Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.

Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents.  The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.

Name: Ally C.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie & Julia [sound recording] : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Julie Powell is a 29 year old living in New York City who is fed up with her dead end secretarial job and depressing apartment in Queens.  In an attempt to find deeper meaning in her life, Julie takes up an ambitious project: she resolves to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year.  To document what she calls “The Julie and Julia project,” she begins writing a blog that captures not only every frustration encountered in following each recipe to exaction but also one that reveals aspects of her marriage, her friends, and her wry observations about daily life.  This memoir delivers a more fleshed out version of events than her blog but still retains its chatty, observant, and hilarious tone.  This inspiring and encouraging book is well written and honest.   It is as much about the character of Julie and her relationships as it is a food memoir that that conveys the challenges and triumphs of a novice young cook attempting masterful French cooking in a tiny New York apartment.

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

Appeal: compelling, easy, engrossing, earnest, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, thoughtful, upbeat, quirky, realistic, well developed characters, character-centered, domestic, accurate, contemporary, details of cooking, chatty, candid, conversational, engaging, informal, witty, descriptive, informative, entertaining,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engaging, witty, entertaining

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry: Love, Learning and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Like Julie and Julia, this book is a memoir that centers on cooking.  The author recalls how she changed careers and attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Like Julie and Julia, the author recalls humorous anecdotes, explores love relationships, and uses cooking as a metaphor for life. 

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. Like Julie and Julia, this is a memoir that is centered on food.  It recounts the life and career of the restaurant critic from The New York Times.  Like Julie and Julie, this is a heartwarming account that takes place in New York, features a strong woman character and contains humorous anecdotes and recipes.

Wizenberg, Molly.  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. Like Julie and Julia, this memoir was derived from a popular blog that recounts the author’s life in terms of cooking and recipes.  Also like Julie and Julia, the author’s accounts are sometimes touching and sometimes humorous in this charming account.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Rose Edelstein has the ability to taste the emotions of others when tasting their cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel is a witty, offbeat account of a woman’s relationship with food and with loved ones.

Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tito, a doting daughter who cooks every meal for her parents in Mexico, finds love and herself through her cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this is a witty story that centers on cooking, love relationships, and contains recipes.

Mileti, Meredith.  Aftertaste, A Novel in Five Courses: In this novel, Mira Rinaldi is a New York City restaurant owner whose life is in a shambles.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel contains many descriptions of delicious food and recipes and features a strong female character who overcomes personal struggle and gains self-worth through cooking.

Name: Meghan M.

Bossypants

August 10, 2011

Author: Tina Fey

Title: Bossypants

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Bestseller, Audiobook

Narrator: Tina Fey

Running Time: 5.5. hours unabridged

Publication Date: 2011

Geographical Setting: Philadelphia and suburbs, Chicago, New York

Time Period: 1970 to present

Series: NA

Plot Summary: Tina Fey’s Bossypants isn’t so much a memoir as a here’s-what-happened-and-what-I-think-about-it book. Fey stumbles through summer theater camps, college experimentation, and working the desk at the YMCA before breaking into the male-dominated world of comedy. While hardly a feminist manifesto, Bossypants illustrates eloquently (while a tad profanity-riddled) the sexism that challenged female comedians into the 1990s; an obstacle that was largely overcome by comedians like SNL alums Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.

The audiobook is certainly a revelation to Tina Fey fans. Fey talks you through the “relative stress of various jobs” and the birth of her “swarthy baby.” The stark honesty of Fey’s Bossypants turns brash and unapologetic when read with the comedic timing and flair of the author. For a hilarious and often surprisingly deep story about coming of age, Bossypants will appeal to lovers of self-deprecating humor and no-holds-barred memoirs

Subject Headings: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Humor, Second City, Saturday Night Live

Appeal: engrossing, engaging, flawed, candid, humorous, sarcastic, insightful, honest, quirky, contemporary, informal, strong language

3 Terms that best define this book: humorous, quirky, candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (Both feature strong father features and explore parent/child relationships with sarcastic humor)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling (The Office actress observes, life, romance and pop culture through personal stories and wit)

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales (Almost three decades of oral histories from the cast and crew of SNL featuring scandals, infighting and showbiz dirt)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles (one man’s sarcastic and humorous look back on his life as he writes a complaint letter to American Airlines while his flight is delayed; very similar humor and autobiographical feel)

My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) by Toby Devens (Fifty-something Dr. Gwyneth Berke is left reeling from her divorce to examine her professional and personal life; the struggle between career and family is told with wit and humor very similar to Fey)

The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer (The wife of a Hollywood studio head is thrown over for a pop starlet; similar themes with the struggle between career and family, the humorous take on the dating scene)

By Denise

Excerpts:

Scar http://bit.ly/qbmeEK

Gender http://bit.ly/pL4jFw

Don Fey http://bit.ly/o1SZlE

Photo Shoots http://bit.ly/n2HJkN