Posts Tagged ‘intriguing secondary characters’

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

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Are You My Mother?

October 24, 2012

Cover of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Mostly Pennsylvania and Vermont

Time Period: Present day with flashbacks

Series: Follow-up to Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)

Plot Summary: Are You My Mother? is a densely-layered and thought-provoking exploration in graphic memoir form of author Bechdel’s complex, flawed relationship with her mother. Bechdel’s father, the subject of her earlier work, Fun Home, was a closeted bisexual who ultimately committed suicide, and her mother a frustrated poet and actress who sublimated her desires to those of her husband, submitting to the role of primary caregiver to their three children. Are You My Mother? depicts Bechdel, some five years after the publication of her critically-acclaimed book about her father, setting out to write a new book about her mother. Bechdel chronicles her process as an artist and writer, undergoing therapy and looking for analogies to her own life found in the works of favorite authors Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, as she attempts to shape a narrative that identifies the moments that wounded her mother and crippled the formation of a healthy mother-daughter bond. The artwork in Are You My Mother? is pen and brush with delicate grey and red washes, offering  a deceptively comic-strip-like simplicity that lightens the densely-written and sophisticated subject matter.

Subject Headings: Motherhood; Mothers and daughters; Teenage daughters—coming out; Parent and child; Suicide; Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941; Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971; Artists

Appeal: Detailed, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, introspective, well developed, character centered, complex, domestic, episodic, layered, literary references, sexually explicit, thought-provoking, contemporary, detailed setting, details of psychoanalytic theory, elaborate, metaphorical, sophisticated, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: introspective, layered, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling (2012) by Jared Gardner

Readers who admire the scope and depth of Bechdel’s graphic storytelling will find much to explore in Gardner’s recent lively, yet somewhat academic, tome. Gardner offers an interpretation of comics as an art form which encourages interactivity in deciphering its contents and a model for contemporary modes of communication. There are multiple passages on Bechdel’s work which contextualize her place in the comics field.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (2012) by Harvey Pekar

Bechdel works in the form known in graphic novel circles as autobiographical comics. Those who want to read more of this type of story may wish to acquaint themselves with Harvey Pekar, one of the seminal figures in this genre who helped define its contours. Where Are You My Mother? uses literary reference and psychoanalysis as a context for Bechdel’s self-exploration, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland in rich detail describes the deep impact that place and history have in shaping identity. Cartoonish but heavily-rendered pen and ink drawings highlight both the grit and charm of urban Cleveland.

Donald Winnicott Today (2012) edited by Jan Abram

The work and life of child psychoanalyst and theorist Winnicott are front and center in the narrative of Are You My Mother?  Bechdel comes to terms with life-long insecurities and decodes her troubled relationship with her mother, relying heavily on Winnicott’s models of mother-child dynamics. Readers who want to explore Winnicott’s work further will find this an accessible and thoughtfully assembled overview of his contributions to the field of Psychoanalysis.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

To the Lighthouse (1927; various editions) by Virginia Woolf

Bechdel’s work is heavily influenced by the English writer Virginia Woolf. Although many of her books are discussed in Are You My Mother?, Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse receives particular attention for its story of self-discovery and coming to terms with the past, which mirrors Bechdel’s emotional journey. Believed to be the most autobiographical of all Woolf’s psychological fiction, To the Lighthouse, with its lyrical style and reflective tone, will surely appeal to readers intrigued by the glimpses of the novel found in Are You My Mother?

Stuck Rubber Baby (New Edition; 2010) by Howard Cruse

Newcomers to comics featuring LGBT protagonists and themes who wish to explore further will find an incredibly rich and varied tradition awaiting them. One of the first widely critically-acclaimed graphic novels dealing with gay themes to receive national attention was Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, first published in 1995. Moving and reflective, and with a strong sense of place, the story follows the exploits of a young man named Toland Polk discovering his sexuality against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the South during the 1960s.

Wandering Son, Book 1 (2011) by Shimura Takako

Are You My Mother? explores the thematic territory of gender identity and coming of age as does the moving and character-driven manga Wandering Son.  Two fifth graders on the cusp of puberty share a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wishes he were a girl and Yoshino a girl who wishes she were a boy. Shimura’s spare and evocative art will likely appeal to fans of Bechdel’s stylized and emotionally expressive drawings.

Name: John Rimer

Redshirts

October 17, 2012

John Scalzi's RedshirtsAuthor: John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 317

Geographical Setting: Aboard the Universal Union starship Intrepid; Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: The distant future; 2010

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Redshirts builds an entire novel around the premise that on the television series Star Trek, the actors known as extras—usually wearing red shirts—who accompany the main cast members on away missions, invariably die a horrible death at the hands of whatever space monster is threatening the crew that episode. In a Star Trek-like universe aboard the starship Intrepid, Scalzi relates the exploits of red shirt-wearing junior officers determined to discover why their kind is being killed at such an alarming rate. Led by Ensign Andy Dahl, the redshirts follow the trail of a mysterious rogue officer, Lt. Jenkins, who lives a hermit-like existence in the bowels of the ship. Once cornered, the disheveled and wild-eyed Jenkins reveals the truth: that their reality is somehow being shaped by a poorly-written television program from Earth’s distant past. Although incredulous at first, Dahl and his fellow redshirts steal a shuttle craft and time travel to Hollywood in the year 2010 to confront the creators of the basic cable science fiction show, Chronicles of the Intrepid. With an irreverent, witty tone, and filled with eccentric characters, Redshirts satirizes familiar science fiction tropes in a fast paced story filled with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing through the action-packed mayhem that ensues.

Subject Headings: Space warfare, Aliens (Humanoid), Interplanetary relations, Betrayal, Interstellar relations, Futurism, Human-alien encounters

Appeal: fast paced, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, action oriented, television references, plot twists, strong language, humorous, philosophical, suspenseful, colorful, conversational, jargon, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: quirky, plot twists, humorous

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet (2012) by Dimitar D. Sasselov

Redshirts protagonist Andy Dahl is a xenobiologist aboard the starship Intrepid, an expert in alien biology. For those readers who want to know more about the very real field of xenobiology, Sasselov’s work is a fast paced and thought provoking exploration of the blending of synthetic biology and extra-planetary astronomy that seeks to expand our knowledge of life in the universe.

The Physics of Star Trek (2007) by Lawrence Krauss

Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss has made his reputation as a popular author translating the frontiers of scientific thought for a mass audience. In this work Krauss discusses many of the dramatic devices of the classic television series Star Trek, such as warp speed and time travel, and demonstrates their connection with the very real ideas of scientists like Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Readers who enjoy the discussions of the plausibility of the science of Star Trek in Redshirts will appreciate Krauss’s unique brand of scholarly but accessible science writing.

So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel (2012) by Phil Hornshaw

Hornshaw’s humorous, offbeat study of the theory of time travel will appeal to readers of Redshirts who were taken with Scalzi’s descriptions of black holes, alternate timelines, and time paradoxes. Descriptive and engaging, this book uses real science as the basis for a handy guide for would-be time travelers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Lost and Found (2004) by Alan Dean Foster

In this first volume of the Taken trilogy, Foster tells an atmospheric tale of Marc Walker, who while camping is abducted by seven foot-tall aliens known as the Vilenjji. From his cage aboard an interstellar slave ship, he learns from a fellow abductee, a talking dog named George, that they are to be auctioned off to collectors of interstellar life forms. Readers who responded to Scalzi’s blend of humor and suspense will appreciate a similar tone found here in Dean’s writing.

Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson

Fans of Star Trek who delighted in seeing that show parodied in Redshirts—if they are willing to swap science fiction for horror with a humorous tone—will be amused by this book. Richly detailed in the lore of all things Trek, Anderson’s novel follows the exploits of Jim Pike, who is forced to lead a small band of survivors when a strange virus transforms most of the attendees at a Star Trek convention into flesh-eating zombies.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010) by Charles Yu

Time travel was central to the storyline of Redshirts, as it is in this novel, which depicts a future where time travel is commonplace, and about a young man’s quest through time to find his missing father—the very first time traveler. Both Redshirts and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe share a tongue-in-cheek meta-perspective about the genre of science fiction, are witty in tone and similarly filled with eccentric and interesting characters.

Name: John Rimer

Catching Fire

July 23, 2012

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire

Genre:  Adventure, Science Fiction

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  391

Geographical Setting:  Panem (North America in the future)

Time Period:  Post-apocalyptic

Series (If applicable):  The Hunger Games

Plot Summary:  In book two of The Hunger Games trilogy, the story of Katniss Everdeen is continued.  By surviving the games with Peeta Mellark in book one, she has unwittingly started stirring rebellion among the districts.  The evil President Snow is out to get her and his forces are ready to staunch the rebellion.  The lengths he goes in order to stop her and make them an example to the districts are horrifying and surprising.  When they are forced back into the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta must reach deep inside themselves and band together with the other contestants in a dramatic struggle for survival.

Subject Headings: Insurgency- Fiction, Survival- Fiction, Television programs- Fiction, Interpersonal relations- Fiction, Contests- Fiction, Dystopia- Fiction

Appeal:  breakneck pacing, detailed, dramatic, intriguing secondary characters, vivid, well drawn characters, action oriented, violent, open-ended, thought-provoking, bleak, darker tone, detailed setting, suspenseful, candid

3 terms that best describe this book:  action oriented, intriguing characters, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Tube Has Spoken:  Reality TV and History- edited by Julie Ann Tadeo and Ken Dvorak

The Tube Has Spoken provides an analysis of the growing phenomenon of reality TV, its evolution as a genre, and how it has been shaped by cultural history. Readers who enjoyed reading about the broadcasting of the Hunger Games, will like this look at reality television today.

Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution– Chun Yu

In China in 1966, Chun Yu was born as the Great Cultural Revolution began under Chairman Mao. Here, in verse, she recalls her childhood as a witness to a country in turmoil and struggle.  Readers interested in true stories of political oppression and revolution will enjoy this poignant memoir.

Democracy Incorporated:  Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism– Sheldon S. Wolin

This book is critical analysis of modern-day urban America, which Wolin claims is politically uninterested and submissive, much like the residents of the Capitol in Catching Fire are submissive and agree with whatever President Snow says.  A thought provoking read for those interested in government and democracy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Uglies- Scott Westerfield

Tally Youngblood, an Ugly, is excited to turn 16 so she can have the operation everyone gets to turn Pretty. A few months before her birthday though, Tally meets Shay who challenges some of her ideas about being Pretty. When Shay runs away before her operation, the authorities get a hold of Tally and tell her that she must locate Shay and give up their group or else she will not be able to turn Pretty. Tally finds the Smoke, but discovers it’s not so bad and that there are some sinister things going on back in Pretty Town.  Readers of post-apocalyptic adventure will appreciate this fast-paced, suspenseful novel and it’s proceeding books in the series.

The Wind-Up Girl- Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok.  Like Catching Fire, this book paints a bleak future of a dystopian world that will have readers racing through it.

The Alchemy of Stone– Ekaterina Sedia

Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets. However, this doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart.  Readers who appreciate the conflicted romance and adventure of Catching Fire will enjoy this book.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Dear John

April 18, 2012

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Title: Dear John

Genre: Romance, historical fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: Audio book – 8 CDs

Geographical Setting: North Carolina, Iraq

Time Period: From late 1990s to 2007

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: John Tyree, a rebel turned responsible army soldier, meets the girl of his dreams on a short furlough from active duty. While courting each other, John and Savannah Lynn Curtis quickly realize that they may have found the greatest love of their lives. However, their long-distance relationship puts major strains on them – more than either could have imagined. John must ultimately choose between serving his country in the aftermath of 9/11 and settling down peacefully with his newfound love. Passionate and bittersweet, this novel will have readers questioning both their personal definitions of love, and what it means to truly love another.

Subject Headings: Love – Meanings, True love, Military life, 9/11, Habitat for Humanity, Cancer, Sacrifices, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Horses, North Carolina, Iraq

Appeal: Compelling, engrossing, densely written, detailed (characters), familiar (characters), intriguing secondary (characters), introspective (characters), layered, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, contemporary, details of army life, heartwarming, nostalgic, romantic, timeless, conversational, graceful, thoughtful

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, thought-provoking, romantic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1). Horses Never Lie About Love: A True Story by Jana Harris – This story tells of a physically and emotionally scarred horse, True Colors, who is terrified of humans, but that eventually learns to live peacefully and love both humans and a new foal in her life. Readers may be interested in this testimony to the power and meanings of love in the life of a majestic and passionate creature.

2). Surviving Iraq: Soldiers’ Stories by Elise Forbes Tripp – A collection of candid tales from 30 soldiers who have served in Iraq in recent years. Honest and bittersweet, these stories tell memories from the lips of those who have served – uncensored and in full.

3). The House That Love Built: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing by Bettie B. Youngs – The story of the founders of Habitat for Humanity, the world’s largest nonprofit homebuilding organization. This text will resonate with readers who are inspired by this organization and its mission to end homelessness and substandard housing through God’s love and the love of his people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1). A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans – This is the tale of a young woman who has become disgusted and nearly given up on finding romance in her life. While on vacation in Europe, Laura Foster meets the owner of a castle estate and unknowingly embarks on a new, and perhaps forever, romance.

2). In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor – This historical fiction work tells the tale of the collapse of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania dam in 1889. Though this event actually occurred, this story is fiction. Through this book, the author tells the stories of several different characters who live during this time, and who have vastly differing points of view. A bittersweet tale of love and destruction.

3). Look Back All the Green Valley by Fred Chappell – A nostalgic look at historical life in North Carolina with a man who is struggling with the deaths of his parents, and ultimately moving on in life. Jess Kirkman is amazed when he finds secret treasures among his father’s personal items that invite him to learn so much more about the man that had raised him.

Name: Melissa

Homer’s Odyssey

March 28, 2012

Author: Gwen Cooper

Title: Homer’s Odyssey

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2009

Number of pages: 299

Geographical Setting: Miami, FL; Manhattan, NY

Time Period: 1990s – 2000s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Gwen Cooper, a writer currently residing in New York, tells the story of one special cat named Homer and how he changed (and continues to change) her life in endless manners. Homer had a raging eye infection at just two weeks of age that nearly took his life, but one committed veterinarian saw the true potential in him and therefore, performed a surgery to remove his eyes and thus, save his life. Gwen adopted Homer when so many refused and he has been there for her (and countless others) in so many unspoken and spoken (or “meowed”) ways. Cooper once stated in her memoir that she is his eyes, and he is her heart (283). Homer taught her about love, loss, commitment, responsibility and generosity, and Gwen clearly and beautifully writes of all of this in her book. For example, Homer saved her from a burglar; taught her how to love unconditionally; and provided her with hours and weeks and years of humor, entertainment, and inspiration. This is a true masterpiece of a memoir about one woman and her “blind wonder cat.”

Subject Headings: Cats – Nonfiction; Blind cats; Miami, FL; Manhattan, NY; Memoirs; Writers; Families; Love relationships; Friendships; Marriage; 9/11/01; Terrorists

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, detailed (characters), intriguing secondary (characters), well-developed (characters), gentle, inspirational, resolved ending, thought-provoking, heartwarming, graceful, nostalgic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engrossing, inspirational, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.) 9/11: The World Speaks by Tribute WTC Visitor Center – This book is a collection of stories, comments, photos and drawings left at the WTC Visitor Center in New York from persons from across the globe. Readers who would like to learn more about international personal accounts regarding the events of 9/11 would very much appreciate this text.

2.) Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa – This book details the life of a cat named Oscar who has a gift of being able to point out who is on their way to the next world (a.k.a. – Heaven). Dosa’s text is as much about cats and their remarkable abilities, and listening and showing compassionate care for others.

3.) Soul Mates: Honoring the Mystery of Love and Relationship by Thomas Moore – Moore has here created a text which discusses relationships between partners, spouses, friends and others and draws upon history, philosophy and spirituality. Readers may enjoy reading his suggestions for honoring all of the relationships in our lives, whether with humans or animals.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

3.) May the Road Rise Up to Meet You: A Novel by Peter Troy – Troy’s novel tells the story of four individuals (many whom are immigrants) during the nineteenth century in America. This is an engrossing novel that, in the end, brings together the lives of all four persons as well as two love relationships.

1.) Those Christmas Angels by Debbie Macomber – This novel focuses on Macomber’s familiar, recurring angels named Shirley, Goodness and Mercy who are, in fact, matchmaking angels. They are working together in this novel to help two individuals to find love during the holiday season. This book will hit home for readers who enjoy heartwarming tales.

2.) Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho – Coelho’s novel is about a young woman who, after a failed suicide attempt, ends up in an asylum. Once there, Veronika eventually finds that life is so much more than what she had previously thought and that every moment here is truly precious. An inspirational read.

Name: Melissa

The Midnight Club

February 22, 2012

Author: James Patterson

Title: The Midnight Club

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 1989

Number of Pages: 349

Geographical Setting: New York City; New York State – various cities; Atlantic City, NJ

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A.

Plot Summary: John Stefanovitch, a New York detective, has been stalking a ruthless murderer and crime lord, nicknamed Grave Dancer, for the past two years. When a sudden violent catastrophe changes Stefanovitch’s life forever, he vows to never give up on the search for the Grave Dancer, no matter the personal consequences. Full of twists and turns and told from multiple points of view, this fast-paced novel portrays Stefanovitch’s (and others) search for a new serial killer, one who has been murdering major crime head’s simultaneously throughout the world. Desperately trying to find out who the mysterious new criminal mastermind is, as well as put his own life back together, John ultimately must also save an innocent journalist and her son from persecution as well.

Subject Headings: New York City, police officers, serial killers, violence – physical and sexual, psychopaths, drug lords, detectives, prostitution

Appeal: fast-paced, intriguing secondary (characters), multiple points of view, action-oriented, complex, explicit violence, plot twists, strong language, bittersweet, darker (tone), hard-edged, menacing, dramatic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, multiple points of view, menacing

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

City Lights: Stories About New York by Dan Barry – Barry takes readers on a poetic and bittersweet journey through the city of New York, but instead of gathering stories from mainstream New Yorkers he instead writes about those whose lives often get overlooked in everyday activities therein.

Drug lords: the rise and fall of the Cali Cartel, the richest, most powerful crime syndicate in history by Ron Chepesiuk – This work of non-fiction chronicles the history and ultimate demise of the Cali Cartel, an international drug “business.” Fast-paced and full of gritty details, this book also demonstrates the power and wit of collaborative law enforcement around the globe.

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiles of the World’s Most Barbaric Criminals by Nigel Cawthorne – Cawthorne takes us into the lives and crimes of many of the world’s most known serial killers. Discussed therein are the murderers’ childhoods and suspected motivations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hardcase by Dan Simmons – After a New York detective Joe Kurtz is released from jail for the injury of a villain, he takes on many other criminals – national and international, and also those involved in organized crime. Partially motivated by revenge because of the murder of his girlfriend, Kurtz is a well-trained and skillful killer. The pace is breakneck and will keep readers guessing.

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell – Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta investigates several unusual murders (one of them was someone relatively close to her) and finds a highly-dangerous extremist religious group that may be to blame. With the help of the FBI, Scarpetta, a familiar character for many readers (series character), takes us on a detailed and graphic investigation into this religious cult in order to halt them before they ruthlessly devour more victims.

Love you more: a detective D.D. Warren novel by Lisa Gardner (Release Date: 2/28/12) – When a state trooper’s husband is found dead and daughter goes missing, D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge have quite a mystery on their hands. Told from multiple points of view, Garner’s book will have readers questioning whom they can truly trust.

Name: Melissa

Midnight Robber

November 17, 2009

Author: Nalo Hopkinson

Title: Midnight Robber

Genre: Multicultural, LGBTQ Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 330

Geographical Setting: The Caribbean colonized mirror planets of Toussaint and Half-Way Tree

Time Period: Sometime in the far future

Plot Summary: On the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, the artificial intelligence of the master computer, called Granny Nanny, watches out for the citizens by recording everything that happens and talking to everyone through nanotechnology in earpieces implanted in everyone at birth. When Mayor Antonio kills the rival for his wife Ione, he escapes prosecution by “climbing the Half-Way Tree” through another dimension to the mirror planet of Half-Way Tree and out of the jurisdiction of Granny Nanny. Antonio tricks his daughter Tan-Tan to come with him, but he soon begins forcing himself on Tan-Tan, saying she looks just like Ione. Tan-Tan finally kills Antonio and escapes to the home of the bird-like douen people, who live far out in the bush. Antonio’s second wife Janisette pursues Tan-Tan, who is also pregnant with Antonio’s child. Tan-Tan assuages her own guilt for killing her father by playing the part of the mythic Robber Queen (a character like Robin Hood based in the Caribbean Carnival tradition), and a whole mythology builds up around this character. For more on Carnival characters, visit this link.

Subject Headings: Caribbean Area, Caribbean Novel And Short Story In English, Multicultural, Jamaican, Canadian, LGBTQ, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Appeal: densely written, leisurely paced, vivid and detailed characterizations, intriguing secondary characters, character centered, layered plot, complex episodic storyline, explicit violence, literary references, mythic, open-ended, sexually explicit, incest, thought-provoking, tragic; detailed setting, exotic, gritty, hard edged; homespun conversational style with a lot of unusual jargon.

3 Terms that best describes this book: Exotic, complex and mythic

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

3 Fiction Works

Prospero’s Daughter by Elizabeth Nunez (a scientist raises his daughter in isolation in the Caribbean until love develops between her and a boy of mixed race)

Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, edited by Sheree R. Thomas (a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories by African-Americans)

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu (Ejii witnesses her father’s murder, sets off to find her father’s killer and awakens her own mystical powers)

3 Non-fiction Works

Talking Taino: Essays on Caribbean Natural History from a Native Perspective by William F. Keegan (A look at the Taino people, natives of the Caribbean before Columbus, and their perspectives on the natural history of the islands)

Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean by Gerard Aching (A look at masks in the traditions of the Caribbean as a “socially significant practice.”)

Toussaint Louverture: A Biography by Madison Smartt Bell (Biography of a key figure in the Haitian revolution)

Name: Christine E.

Nobody Runs Forever

October 7, 2009

October 7, 2009 by cassie67

Author:  Richard Stark

Title: Nobody Runs Forever

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting:  Eastern United States

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Parker series

Plot Summary: Parker, a hard-as-nails career criminal, is at a poker game when one of the men is discovered to be wearing a wire. After the man’s body is disposed of, Parker is contacted by one of the men at the game about a bank heist he wants to do, robbing armored cars carrying money from one bank to another. The other players in the heist are introduced, and the details of the heist are revealed, although some of the people involved don’t know what they’re doing and keep changing the plan. A bounty hunter shows up looking for the man killed at the poker game, a police detective starts nosing around, and the robbers have to be quick on their feet to get the goods and stay away from the law.

Subject Headings: Adventure/thriller, Crime & mystery, Bank robberies, Criminals, American Mystery & Suspense Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Mystery & Detective,

Parker (Fictitious character), Suspense fiction, Crime & Thriller

Appeal: This edgy, compelling look at the inside workings of a bank heist has a complex plot line with multiple points of view. The writing style is stark and unembellished, and the explicit violence and language add to the sense of these characters as shadowy, menacing figures with their own immoral code. The story starts out action driven and plot driven, but it takes a few detours to flesh out some of the characters’ motivations.

3 Terms that best describes this book: Gritty, menacing, plot-oriented

Similar Authors and Works (criminals, heists and plans gone wrong):

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block (killers brought together to assassinate Castro, showing their motivations and outcomes)

The Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett (a jewelry heist is planned by a group of seedy con-artists, written in gritty style)

Damaged Goods by Roland Jefferson (a convicted bank robber gets a gritty group together to pull off a bank heist)

3 Non-fiction Works (bank robberies and heists gone wrong)

Heist! The $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant presents what happened from the point of view of a bank employee and the FBI investigation.

Robbing Banks, An American History, 1831-1999 by L.R. Kirchner gives the inside scoop on bank heists, including details of criminal incompetence and ingenuity.

Ballad of the whiskey robber: a true story of bank heists, ice hockey, Transylvanian pelt smuggling, moonlighting detectives, and broken hearts by Julian Rubenstein had to be included just for the title, but it also traces the story of a Hungarian bank robber and what he did to stay alive.

Name: Christine E.

Tags: Compelling, deliberate, engrossing, distant, evocative, intriguing secondary (characters), multiple points of view, vivid, action oriented, character centered, complex, explicit violence, multiple plotlines, open-ended, plot centered, plot twists, strong language, tragic, contemporary, darker (tone), details of bank heists, edgy, gritty, hard edged, menacing, stark, unembellished

Posted in Thriller

Odd Thomas

September 30, 2009

Odd Thomas

for November 4, 2009 by cassie67

Author: Dean Koontz

Title: Odd Thomas

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 446

Geographical Setting: Pico Mundo, California

Time Period: Present day

Series: Odd Thomas

Plot Summary: Short order cook Odd Thomas can see the “restless dead” and is compelled to help solve their murders in what at first feels like a cozy mystery. When Odd sees evil, shadowy forms he calls bodachs swarming around residents of his little town and preparing for a bloodbath of some kind, he follows an unusual character he calls “Fungus Man” to try to find out what evil deed is being plotted for August 15. Trouble is, it’s already August 14.

Appeal: engrossing, leisurely pace accelerates toward the end, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, some explicit violence, folksy tone, literary references, plot twists, tragic, resolved ending, detailed setting, details of supernatural abilities, humorous, menacing, nightmare (tone), conversational, homespun.

3 terms describing the book: Folksy, quirky characters but plot hints of menace

Subject headings:

Koontz, Dean R. (Dean Ray) – Prose & Criticism

Fiction

Fiction – Horror

Fiction – Espionage/Thriller

Mystery/Suspense

Fiction/Suspense

Suspense

Cooks

Mediums

Murderers

Three relevant fiction books:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo is as much about the town in which it is set as the characters and how the lives of those who live in town intertwine. The measured pace of most of the book gives way to a fast-paced ending much like that of Odd Thomas.

In Shadowland: The Mediator, Book 1 by Meg Cabot, a high school sophomore has the power to talk to the dead and to help spirits move on, much as Odd Thomas uses his abilities to do the same.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain is a cat-and-mouse game between serial killer Gretchen Lowell and police detective Archie Sheridan, who was one of Lowell’s victims. Those who want more of the details of the serial killings in Odd Thomas will find them here.

Three relevant non-fiction books:

Don’t Kiss Them Good-bye by Allison DuBois. DuBois’ life and her work with crime investigators are the basis for the TV show “Medium.” Like the character of Odd Thomas, she has had to learn to deal with her psychic gifts and she shares some insights into the afterlife.

Serial Killers; The Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky looks at serial killer investigations throughout history, signs to watch for if someone is a serial killer and means of surviving an encounter with one. Odd Thomas investigates someone he suspects of planning a mass killing and finds a lot of clues to the man’s state of mind in his home.

500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late by Jane and Michael Stern is a love story to unique foods served in little diners and holes-in-the-wall across the country. Odd Thomas works as a short order cook and prides himself on his light and fluffy pancakes. He also discusses diner slang in one chapter, and the Sterns have a short glossary of diner terms.

Name: Christine Edison

Tags: engrossing, leisurely pace accelerates toward the end, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, some explicit violence, folksy tone, literary references, plot twists, tragic, resolved ending, detailed setting, details of supernatural abilities, humorous, menacing, nightmare (tone), conversational, homespun.