Posts Tagged ‘interior’

The Chameleon’s Shadow

June 14, 2010

Chameleon's Shadow
Author: Minnette Walters
Title: The Chameleon’s Shadow
Genre: Mystery / Psychological Suspense
Pub. Date: 2008
Pages: 370
Setting: London
Time period: 2007

Lt. Charles Acland, the sole survivor of a life-altering explosion in the Iraq war returns to England with memory loss, extreme migraines, guilt, anger, depression and injuries that have left one side of his face severely disfigured. His self-imposed isolation reveals itself in repulsion and aggression to a mere touch or show of sympathy from others. His hard exterior is broken down by a 250-pound, weightlifting, lesbian doctor, when she stops him from severely beating a man in a bar fight after one of his frequent unprovoked attacks. It is through the interactions with this new found equal that we discover the roots of Acland’s deeper problems in his relationships with women (especially his mother and ex-fiancée) in his life and how these might just connect him to the serial murders of three gay or bisexual men. Walter’s skillful use of official and unofficial documents and conversations opens the story up to multiple interpretations, turning the murders and the relationships involved into a “he said she said” scenario. In the end, readers are left as surprised about who committed the murders as to why.

Subject Headings:
Iraq War, 2003—Veterans—Great Britain—Fiction
Personality disorders—Fiction
London (England)—Fiction

Engrossing, compelling, candid, emotionally-charged, , psychological, sobering, suspenseful, detailed, interior, introspective, frank, engaging.

Similar Titles: (fiction)
Barbara Vine
No Night is too Long
Good choice for deep sexual undertones and the idea of a cooled relationship and loathing of a former lover mixed with a murder mystery.

The Minotaur: a novel
Also by Vine, this book is more similar for its frame of family dysfunction surrounding the main character and focusing more on his disabilities than theirs.

Ruth Wendell
The Monster in the Box
Unsolved murders are focused on the unusual person with defined physical scars, but the psychological reasons for the murders might be more important.

Augusten Burroughs
Running With Scissors: A Memoir
Surviving a dysfunctional childhood and being able to talk about it.

Mic Hunter
Honor Betrayal: Sexual Abuse in America’s Military
Details the culture and environment that might lead to the victimization of others.

Penny Coleman
Flashback: posttraumatic stress disorder, suicide, and the lessons of war
Detailed account of all the different ramifications of solders coming back from war from a widow’s perspective.

John Talley

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

June 14, 2010

Housekeeping book cover

Author: Robinson, Marilynne

Title: Housekeeping

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1980

Number of Pages: 219

Geographical Setting: Fingerbone Lake, Idaho

Time Period: Roughly the middle of 1900s

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Abandoned by their mother who has driven off a bridge to her death, Ruth and her sister Lucille are taken in by their maternal grandmother. After their grandmother’s demise, the girls are temporarily cared for by two spinster great aunts. The great aunts gratefully pass the responsibility of raising the sisters to Aunt Sylvie, one of their mother’s sisters. Aunt Sylvie is a drifter and her “housekeeping” is questionable, both in the eyes of Lucille and the townspeople. As Lucille asserts her independence and makes personal choices, Ruthie becomes attached to Sylvie and finds comfort in her odd ways.

Subject Headings: Loss (Psychology), Family relationships, Survivors of suicide victims, Eccentric aunts, Teenage girls, Sisters, Eccentrics and eccentricities, Mothers – Death, Suicide, Small town life, Grandmothers, Aunts, Loneliness in women, The West (United States), Literary fiction, Psychological fiction, Domestic fiction, First person narratives

Appeal: Densely written, measured, deliberate, detailed, eccentric, insightful, reflective, sympathetic, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, interior, thought-provoking, small-town, first-person, sympathetic, issue-oriented, contemplative, reflective, elegiac, literary, poetic, introspective, thoughtful, frank, detailed setting.

Three Terms that best describe this book: Family-Centered, Detailed, Thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Bitterbrush Country: Living on the Edge of the Land by Diane Josephy Peavey. This is a collection of autobiographical essays about her adult life on Flat Top Sheep Ranch as the wife of Idaho Senator John Peavy. Each essay renders a narrative about the spirit of Western rural culture. This compilation is similar to Housekeeping in that it is reflective, insightful, poetic, written in the first-person, and about life in Idaho.

The Boy on the Green Bicycle: a Memoir by Margaret Diehl. At the tender age of ten, the author lost both her brother (in a bicycle accident) and her father (to suicide). Thirty years later, Diehl looks back on this difficult time as part of her grieving process. This book is similar to Housekeeping in that it is family-centered, deals with death and suicide, is about families and relationships, and is thought-provoking.

Written on Water: Essays on Idaho Rivers edited by Mary Clearman Blew. This book is a compilation of essays about “any river” in Idaho. All written by Idaho writers, some of the essays are personal and others are matter-of-fact reports. This book is similar to Housekeeping in that all the writings are set on rivers in Idaho.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Runaway: Stories by Alice Munro. This collection of short stories focuses on the distinction between societal expectations and the contrasting yearnings and desires of women. This compilation portrays women of all ages dealing with and confronting an array of life’s challenges. This collection is similar to Housekeeping in that it is introspective, insightful, thought-provoking, issue-oriented, and about women’s lives and relationships and small town life.

Amy and Isabelle, by Beth Strout. This story follows a mother/daughter relationship, while Housekeeping is the story of an aunt/niece relationship. This story is similar to Housekeeping in that it is character- and family-centered, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, and contains a family secret.

The Homesman, by Glendon Swarthout. Set in the American West, Mary Bee Cuddy is a self-sufficient unmarried woman. Cuddy’s neighbor, Theoline, becomes mentally unstable and is in immediate need of help. Cuddy volunteers to act as “homesman” for Theoline and three other mentally ill women by accompanying them to Iowa where help is waiting. This story is similar to Housekeeping in that it has sympathetic characters, is character-centered, thought-provoking and issue-oriented, takes place in the West, and mentally ill and suicidal women play prominent roles.

Name: Laona Fleischer

Mysterious Skin

April 21, 2010

Author:Scott Heim

Title: Mysterious Skin

Genre: Gay/Lesbian

Publication Date: 1995

Number of Pages: 292

Geographical Setting: Hutchinson, Kansas

Time Period: Segments of the book are set in each of the years 1981, 1983 and 1987

Series (If applicable):n/a

Plot Summary: In 1981 eight year old Brian wakes up in the crawlspace of his house, bleeding and not able to remember the last five hours. He comes to believe he has been abducted by a UFO. At the same time, in the same town Neil, also eight years old, is molested by his little league coach. Over the next several years the two take drastically different paths but ultimately are drawn to each other in an attempt to understand the traumatic events that have shaped their lives.

Subject Headings: Gay/Lesbian issues, child sexual abuse, male prostitution, repressed memories, coming of age

Appeal: dramatic, interior, reflective, sympathetic, well-drawn, detailed setting, small-town, stark, darker, emotionally-charged, introspective, nightmare, uneasy, thoughtful, frank, stark,

3 terms that best describe this book: Graphic, Disturbing, Moving

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Why I killed Peter. By Olivier Ka. A graphic novel depicting the author’s confronting the priest who abused him when he was twelve.

Young Man from the Provinces: A Gay Life Before Stonewall by Alan Helms. This memoir traces the author’s journey from a difficult childhood, growing up gay in 1950’s small town Indiana to a career as an actor and model in the significantly more open New York City.

Why I Didn’t Say Anything: The Sheldon Kennedy Story by Sheldon Kennedy and James Grainger. I

A memoir of a famous Canadian hockey player who reveals the childhood abuse he suffered at the hands of his former coach.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley. A coming of age story focusing on a budding relationship between two young men in the rural south.

Heart is Deceitful Above All Things by J. T. LeRoy. A series of stories focusing on a young person suffering from gender confusion and set in the rough world of truck stop prostitution.

The World of Normal Boys by K. M. Soehnlein. A coming of age novel set in 1978 about a thirteen yearl old boy and his explorations of his homosexuality.

Name: Kris Harrison

Girls in Trucks

March 31, 2010

Author: Katie Crouch

Title: Girls in Trucks

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 241

Geographical Setting: Charleston, SC/New York City, NY

Time Period: The main character’s life, from childhood to present day.

Plot Summary: It’s hard to be a southern belle in a non-debutant world.  Sarah Walters grew up in Charleston, SC, born into one of the most prestigious Southern women’s society: the Camellias.  Along with the three other Camellias from her generation: Elizabeth (Bitsy), Charlotte, and Annie, Sarah does all the right things to be part of the antiquated Charleston society while trying to find her place in the world.  But in today’s society, Sarah’s training and upbringing aren’t enough to keep her within the confines of her small southern world, so she rebels against the strict societal rules of Charleston and runs away to New York City.

But Sarah soon learns that the southern rules that have governed her upbringing do not apply in the harsh world of the city, and the promise of a new life is not always as fulfilling as it seems.  She and the Camellias come-of-age as they sink into their respective addictions; Sarah, an abusive relationship, Charlotte, alcohol and substance abuse, Bitsy, an unhealthy marriage with an adulterous man, and Annie, a warped relationship with a man obsessed with painting.  As Sarah continues into unhealthy relationships with men and friends, family circumstances call her back to Charleston.

As Sarah faces family tragedy and discovers the deep secrets of her childhood, she learns that the adage ‘once a Camellia, always a Camellia’ will always run true.  Men will always let down the Camellias, but together the four women rediscover how their Camellia bond will always run deeper than failed relationships.

Subject Headings: City life, Debutantes, Women — Southern States, Rich women, Culture conflict, Coming-of-age stories, Domestic fiction

Appeal Terms: engaging, introspective, well-developed, insightful, interior, thought-provoking, episodic, sexually explicit, contemporary, emotionally-charged, evocative, nostalgic, character-centered, complex, conversational, thoughtful, unpretentious, accessible, bittersweet, earnest

Three Terms to describe this Book: Coming-of-age story, Southern women and their lives, Introspective look on friendships


Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel, by Susan Gregg Gilmore: A coming-of-age story about a Georgia girl who tries to leave her Southern home but is pulled back due to family tragedy. Gilmore shows that discovering that the place you run from is often the place that is truly home.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells: The story of how damaged Siddalee Walker, who outs her Southern family’s deepest, darkest secrets in a very public way, grows to understand her complicated mother.  A story of love and friendship that shows what happens in our past not only shapes ourselves, but those we love most.

Bound South, by Rebecca White: A story with three different female perspectives, White shows the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, and how the Southern way of life shapes each woman as they try to find themselves in the changing world.


Debutante: Rites and Regalia of American Debdom, by Karal Ann Marling: Marling shows the growth of the debutante in America from the 1700s until present day. She examines each aspect of being a Deb, from the clothes, to the society, to the mother/daughter Deb relationship.

We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle, by Celia Rivenbark: A collection of essays that examine the ins and outs of being a woman from a Southern perspective.

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True-Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out, or Faded Away, edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell: An examination of friendships and why some last forever, and some simply fade with time.

Name: Jessica Coates

Le Horla

October 21, 2009
 Le Horla et autres nouvelles fantastiques , de Guy de MAUPASSANT

Author: Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant

Title: Le Horla (The Horla)

Genre: Bestseller/Horror

Publication Date: 1887

Number of Pages: 56

Geographical Setting: Tiny town near Rouen on the Seine

Time Period: Late 19th century.

Series: No

Plot Summary: Le Horla was written in the age of Louis pasture’s new microscopic world, Charcot’s lectures on hysteria, the birth of hypnotism, and the discovery of canals on mars. The scientific advances of the late 19th century brought about an obsession with other worlds, parallel worlds, and the possibility of non human creatures. Our reclusive author is writing his journal entries during this uncertain time. After moving back to his childhood home nestled on the out skirts of a small French village his life takes a turn for the worse. The man first begins to feel an air of dizziness, uneasiness, something thick in the air, then moments of unexplainable confusion, panic and paranoia…the feeling that someone or something is watching. He believes that he is being haunted by an otherworldly beast who has to ability to control his thoughts. He sees shadows. Nightmares plague our author and wake him in the middle of the night, and later nightmares come during the day. Doors open and close by themselves, the milk and bread are consumed in the middle of the night. The man feels claws going down his back and rough fur covered hands strangling his neck, however the creature is never seen, does he exist?, or if it is all just a product of fear, paranoia, or mental insanity. Within a few journal entries our author goes from a wealthy, educated aristocrat, to a mumbling, drooling shell of a person. How can our author rid himself of the beast? What if the beast is is his head?

Appeal: Terrifying, fast paced, epistolary, menacing, interior, delirious, introspective, inconclusive, suspenseful, unsettling, small town, paranoia, claustrophobic, fantastical, skeptical, loss of control, vulnerable, destruction, nightmare, suicidal, doubt,

Subject Headings: Literary Fiction, 19th century, Horror, Short Story

3 Terms Describing the Book: Dark, paranoid, insanity.

Three Relevant Fiction Books & Why:

Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol

(A similar epistolary style story of civil servant, and his decent into insanity)

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

(Inspired by Le Horla, written in a documentary style, tells an account of an extra terrestrial creature that wreaks havoc on three generations.)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

(A similar tale of a haunting, however like Le Horla it is unclear whether they are actually real ghosts or figments of the imagination.)

Three Relevant Non Fiction Books & Why:

100 Questions & Answers About Schizophrenia by Lynn E DeLisi

(In Le Horla the reader never knows if the creature exists in real life or just in the authors head, some literary critics have mentioned that there are tell tale signs of schizophrenia present in the book, check out DeLisi’s book to find out what those signs are)

Syphilis by Brian Shmaefsky

(Many believe that Guy de Maupassant was suffering from syphilis induced mental insanity when Le Horla was written, readers might be interested in exploring the link between the STD and mental instability)

Hauntings by Peter Hepplewhite

(Perhaps the Horla was real?, this book tells the tale of other real life accounts of hauntings across the U.S.)

Name: Laura Bartnik

The Shack

April 14, 2009

Author: William P. Young
Title: The Shack
Genre: Literary Fiction; Inspirational
Publication Date: 2007
Number of Pages: 256
Geographical Setting: American Northwest; Multnomah Falls and Wallowa Lake, Oregon
Time Period: c.2003-2007
Plot Summary: While on a family vacation, Mack Philips youngest daughter is abducted by a serial killer. Her body is never found, but investigators find a shack where they are certain her murder took place. Three and a half years later, still grieving and unable to move past his daughter’s death, Mack receives a note from God in his mailbox asking him to return to the shack. Uncertain about who the note is from, but still drawn to the crime scene, Mack goes to the shack alone where he meets God as the three manifestations of the Trinity.
Subject Headings: Life change events – Fiction; Missing children – Fiction; Oregon – Fiction; Religious fiction; Suspense fiction; God (Christianity); Loss (Psychology); Suffering – Religious Aspects – Christianity; Family relationships; Theodicy; Belief and doubt; Murder – Religious aspects
Appeal: deliberate, measured, steady, unhurried, detailed, distant, engaging, evocative, familiar, insightful, inspiring, interior, intriguing, introspective, lifelike, sympathetic, vivid, well-developed, well-drawn, character-centered, complex, inspirational, mystical, open-ended, thought-provoking, tragic, contemporary, detailed setting, evocative, intimate, lush, rural, timeless, atmospheric, bittersweet, candid, comtemplative, dramatic, earnest, elegiac, heartwarming, hopeful, melancholy, philosophical, theological, psychological, thoughtful, accessible, conversational, fervent, natural, passionate, unaffected, didactic.
Similar Authors and Works (Fiction):
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory. Conversations with God, belief, doubt, faith, Christianity, didactic, inspirational, theological.
Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. Loss, grief, Christianity, psychological, belief, doubt, faith, spirituality.
Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause. Family relationships, grief, belief, doubt, faith, religion, loss, psychological, poignant.
Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction):
Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan D. Chittister. Chittister, a Catholic nun, describes how she learns from a major disappointment in her life. Spirituality, religion, suffering, hope, life change events.
The Doors of the Sea: where was God in the Tsunami? by David Bentley Hart. A Theologian reconciles the problem of evil through the focus of the 2004 Christmas Tsunami. Theodicy, faith, belief, doubt, loss, grief.
The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. Lewis’ classic treatise on why God allows suffering. Pain, suffering, theodicy, spirituality.
Name: Tori

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

March 25, 2009

Author: Jeff Lindsay
Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 304
Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida
Time Period: 2004
Series: Dexter, Book 1
Plot Summary: Dexter Morgan is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Department. He’s also a sociopathic serial killer with an aversion to blood. However, Dexter is the good guy; he only kills other serial killers, particularly those who target children. When prostitutes start dying in a manner startlingly similar to Dexter’s M.O., he is torn between catching the new killer in town and sitting back and admiring his work.
Subject Headings: Adoptees; Brothers and Sisters; Crime Laboratories; Crime Scene Searches; Father and Son; Florida; Forensic Scientists – Fiction; Men/Women Relations; Miami – Fiction; Murderer-Detectives; Mutilation; Personal Conduct; Police – Miami, Policewomen – Miami; Psychological Fiction; Psychopathic Criminals; Secrets; Serial Murder Investigation; Serial Murderers – Fiction; Serial Murders – Fiction; Suspense – Fiction; Vigilantes – Fiction;
Appeal: accessible, atmospheric, black humor, candid, cinematic, conclusive, contemplative, contemporary, dark, eccentric, edgy, details of forensic investigation, direct, fast-paced, flashbacks, frank, grim, interior, intriguing, introspective, investigative, ironic, light, macabre, morbid, offbeat, plot twists, political, psychological, quirky, resolved ending, sarcastic, series characters, smart, strong language, suspenseful, thought-provoking, unusual, urban, violent, vivid, witty
Red Flags: Strong language, murder, torture, mutilation and dismemberment.
Similar Authors and Works (Fiction):
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Serial murderers, psychopathic criminals, psychological, suspenseful, violence, grim, child abuse victims, interior, action, chilling, smart.
The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey. Serial murderers, psychopathic criminals, black humor, satire, quirky, offbeat.
Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff. Vigilantes, psychological, suspenseful, secret organizations, assassins, fantastical, fast-paced, smart, well-developed, quirky, satirical.
Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction):
In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean. Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the people of Skidmore, Missouri for years. When the law failed the community, several citizens decided to kill him themselves.
Wicked Intentions: the Sheila LaBarre Murders by Kevin Flynn. Sheila LaBarre killed two developmentally disabled young men, claiming she was “an avenging angel sent to kill pedophiles.”
The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation by N.E. Genge. This book contains step-by-step descriptions of the forensic investigation process with real and fictitious examples and plenty of references to television, film, and literature.
Name: Tori

At Risk

February 25, 2009

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Title: At Risk

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 212

Geographical Setting: Boston, MA and Knoxville, TN

Time Period: 2006

Series: Win Garano series (only 2 books as of 2008, the other title is The Front)

Plot Summary: Winston “Win” Garano, an investigator for the Massachusetts District Attorney’s office, has just been called back to Boston from Knoxville, Tennessee. The D.A., Monique Lamont, is assigning him to a twenty-year-old cold case in Knoxville in a bid to gain publicity for her forensics laboratory. It is all part of her “At Risk” program that aims to reduce violent crime in Boston while improving chances of becoming governor in an upcoming election. Win refuses to take the case, especially after receiving threats from a mysterious man in red. However, everything changes when he discovers Lamont has been violently assaulted in her own home. He convinces a colleague to start pursuing the case in Knoxville while he investigates Lamont’s attack in Boston. He must now investigate both crimes to determine whether the two cases are linked.

Subject Headings: Forensic Pathology – Fiction; Massachusetts – Fiction; Public Prosecutors – Massachusetts – Fiction; DNA Fingerprinting – Fiction; Criminal Investigation – Fiction; Tennessee – Fiction; Mystery Fiction; Cold Cases (Criminal Investigation) – Tennessee – Fiction; Murder – Investigation – Tennessee – Knoxville – Fiction; Forensic Sciences – Fiction; DNA – Fiction;

Appeal: fast-paced, distant, eccentric, interior, multiple points of view, realistic, strong secondary characters, action-oriented, cinematic, conclusive, investigative, layered, linear, multiple plot lines, plot-centered, plot twists, resolved ending, contemporary, political, rural, small-town, urban, austere, dramatic, moody, sophisticated, unaffected, uneasy, accessible, candid, concise, conversational, dialect, direct, jargon, natural, spare, unembellished, details of forensic investigation, explicit, violent

Red Flags: Graphic descriptions of death, autopsy, and human decomposition. Descriptions of violence and rape are less graphic but may disturb sensitive readers.

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction):

Echo Park by Michael Connelly. Connelly’s 12th Harry Bosch novel, in which Bosch solves a cold case mired in political conspiracy.

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs. A forensic scientist suspects a recent murder may be the work of a serial killer.

Shadows by Edna Buchanan. The Cold Case squad of detectives must solve a 1961 murder before the crime scene is demolished to make way for new condominiums.

Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction):

Cracking Cases: the Science of Solving Crimes by Henry C. Lee. This title focuses on the forensics used to investigate murder cases.

Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. This is the memoir of a forensic anthropologist and his work at the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee.

The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn. This title examines how Cold Case detectives investigate four unsolved murders.

Name: Tori