Posts Tagged ‘intriguing’

The Night Circus (Audio Book)

October 24, 2012

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 512

Geographical Setting: Predominately London and Concord, Massachusetts but several worldwide settings (traveling circus) as well.

Time Period: 1873-1903

Plot Summary:

Set in the late 19th century, The Night Circus tells the story of a darkly enchanting traveling circus that opens when the sun goes down. While the circus is made up of a large cast of workers and performers, the plot revolves around two young people skilled in magic- Celia, the circus’ illusionist who possesses the ability to manipulate the world around her, and Marco, a former orphan with a knack for altering physical settings. Due to an ancient feud between their instructors, Celia and Marco are bound to compete against each other in a magical challenge that will test their skill and endurance. Unsure of exactly how a winner will be determined, Celia and Marco approach the challenge with fear and distrust of their less than noble mentors and complicate their arrangement further by falling in love. While the story of the young lovers skilled in magic is at the heart of the plot, Morgenstern includes a slue of additional characters who are strangely bound to the circus itself. Memorable secondary characters include the Murray twins whose birth on circus grounds results in their own magical abilities and Tsukiko, a mysterious contortionist with secrets of her own. Morgenstern writes an engrossing tale that includes multiple plot lines and smoothly vacillates between the past and the future. Celia and Marco’s romance is as endearing as it is heartbreaking and the mysterious magic that surrounds the circus is intriguing and thought provoking. Written in a lush and elegant style, The Night Circus is a fascinating dark fantasy story about love,  mystical circumstances, and a spectacularly magical circus that bewilders both its patrons and performers.

Regarding the audio book specifically, Jim Dale tells this spectacular story in a voice that is both engaging and haunting. His varied dialects for this large cast of characters are enjoyable and believable. Reluctant listeners might find Dale’s reading an excellent introduction to the world of audio books and will perhaps seek out addition titles that he has read.

Subject Headings: Circus, Circus performers, Competition, Games, Good and Evil, Magic, Magicians, Magicians’ apprentices, Nineteenth century

3 Appeal Terms: Magical, Thought-Provoking, Elegant

Appeal: Engrossing, Unhurried, Atmospheric, Dark, Magical, Dramatic Characters, Intriguing, Complex Storyline, Flashbacks, Imaginative, Multiple Plot Lines, Plot-Centered, Thought-Provoking, Elegant Language.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

The Circus at the Edge of the Earth: Travels with the Great Wallenda Circus by Charles Wilkins

Writer Charles Wilkins takes the opportunity to travel with the Wallenda Circus on a worldwide trip that spans several weeks. He describes the intriguing circus performers in rich detail and notes the physical danger in which they put themselves in order to remain a part of the show. For readers whose curiosity of circus life was peaked while reading The Night Circus, The Circus at the Edge of the Earth offers an engrossing true adventure story.

Josser: Days and Nights in the Circus by Nell Stroud

Josser is an autobiographical work that tells the story of 18-year-old Stroud who joined a traveling circus after a family tragedy. Readers who wish to explore the relationships among a real circus family might enjoy this non-fiction title.

The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Michael Robert Place

The Night Circus includes several detailed descriptions of tarot cards, mostly through the perspective of Isobel the fortuneteller. For readers who took interest in this aspect of circus life, The Tarot offers additional information on the history of reading as well as symbolism found in the cards.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

In a society where magic is nearly non-existent, Gilbert Norrell is the only working magician until he meets Jonathan Strange who will become his student. After observing the depth of Jonathan’s skill, Norrell becomes jealous and controlling and a rivalry quickly develops. Readers seeking another dark read about rival magicians in the 19th century might enjoy this title.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater, a high school student, is delighted to discover a university devoted to teaching magic. Eager to change his seemingly dull existence, Quentin enrolls in this fantastical college and begins studies in wizardry. He quickly learns that magic lessons are more difficult than he previously imagined and finds himself tangled up in an alternate universe’s war, which leads to a compelling adventure. Similar to The Night Circus, The Magicians is dark and suspenseful. Readers seeking additional fantasy reading that includes a coming-of-age theme and magicians might appreciate this book

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

For The Night Circus fans who are seeking additional circus reading but would like to delve outside of the Fantasy genre, Water for Elephants might be an enjoyable title. Set in the 1930s, Water for Elephants tells the story of young Jacob who impulsively joins a traveling circus after the sudden loss of his parents. Jacob quickly finds work caring for the exotic circus animals but finds himself falling in love with Marlena, an equestrian star, who is married to the disturbing animal trainer. Jacob’s adventures in this richly detailed circus make for a fast-paced, engaging read. Water for Elephants also offers flashbacks similar to The Night Circus and emphasizes the love story in a circus setting. Readers who enjoyed the romance between Marco and Celia might appreciate this work of Literary Fiction.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

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Still Life

October 3, 2012

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Author: Joy Fielding

Title: Still Life

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 369

Geographical Setting: Philadelphia

Time Period: Present (2009)

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Casey Marshall, a woman has the perfect life, a perfect husband, a booming business and a close knit group of friends, but one day that all changes. After meeting her friends for lunch Casey gets into a car accident and ends up in a coma. While Casey is in the coma, nobody surrounding her knows that she can hear them, but she is unable to respond or see her friends, family and other people. Casey realizes from her sense of hearing that the car accident may not have been an accident. Will she to be able wake up from the coma before it is too late?

Subject Headings: Women interior decorators; traffic accidents; women coma patients; sub consciousness; suspicion; dishonesty; married women

Appeal: builds in intensity, closely observed, compelling, contemporary, disturbing, emotionally charged, engaging, flashbacks, intricately plotted, intriguing,  moody, plot driven, psychological, suspenseful

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: suspenseful; psychological; engaging

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Tavalaro, Julia, 1935- Look for Yes (true story of woman in coma, wrongfully diagnosed her as brain-dead and she could hear others but could not respond back)

– Metz, Julie, Perfection: a memoir of betrayal and renewal(compelling, somebody close to her was not honest with her)

– Carpenter, Kim, 1965- The vow: the Kim & Krickett story (coma patient, dealing with car accident)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Flynn, Gillian, Gone Girl (suspenseful, psychological, disturbing, mysterious marriage)

– Clark , Mary Higgins, I Heard that Song Before (suspenseful, plot-driven, suspicious of husband)

– Adler, Elizabeth (Elizabeth A.), In a Heartbeat (suspenseful, intricately plotted, almost killed, main character is unable to respond to people while in hospital)

Name: Samantha Biegel

Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 1

September 26, 2012

Game of Thrones Graphic Novel

Author: George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, art by Tommy Patterson

Title: A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 1

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: A fictitious continent, Westeros, is composed of nine regions, each governed by a ruling house, which in turn are ruled over by a King of The Seven Kingdoms.

Time Period: The story takes place on an alternative world, but the time period resembles Earth’s Middle Ages.

Series (If applicable): This graphic novel is an adaptation of the first half of a novel entitled A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, which is itself the first volume of a planned seven part series of epic fantasy novels, collectively known as A Song of Fire and Ice and five of which have been published to date. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Two is scheduled to be published in June of 2013.

Plot Summary: As mysterious omens portend the return of a mysterious ancient evil from the frozen wastelands beyond his northern kingdom of Winterfell, more pressing political concerns drag Lord Eddard Stark to King’s Landing, where he is asked to serve as the “King’s Hand” to his friend King Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms, in his hour of need. Conspiracies and rumors of conspiracies which threaten to topple Baratheon, seem even to include the queen’s own clan, the power hungry Lanisters. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen is King’s Landing-bound, carrying the mysterious dragon eggs which are the only legacy of her clan’s former claim to the throne. This character-driven story which unfolds along multiple plot-lines, weaves a complex portrait of a civil war set in a world of kings, knights and barbarians, but with long-dormant magic beginning to reassert itself. The artwork is richly detailed pencil and ink, and the layouts give focus mostly to the characters, emphasizing the dialogue, with the occasional wide-angle or splash panel which help evoke the lushly-imagined world of the story.

Subject Headings: Nobility, Knights and knighthood, Good and evil, Violence, Rulers, Magic, Dragons, Imaginary places

Appeal: compelling, deliberate, engrossing, atmospheric, dangerous, dramatic, closely observed, detailed, intriguing, multiple points of view, strong secondary characters, vivid, well-developed, character-centered, episodic, multiple plot lines, sexually explicit, detailed setting, exotic, political, complex, well-crafted, witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: atmospheric, character-centered, well-crafted

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

 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

300 by Frank Miller

Readers who respond to the rich atmosphere generated by George R. R. Martin’s research into Medieval history may appreciate this vivid graphic novel retelling of the last stand of a band of Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, against an overwhelming force of Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae.

The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel, by Miyamoto Musashi, adapted by Sean Michael Wilson, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada

This classic treatise on swordsmanship and the way of the samurai, here translated into graphic novel form, may appeal to readers of A Game of Thrones who revel in depictions of swordplay and ancient forms of combat.

The Wars of the Roses, by Alison Weir

Readers who want to peek behind the curtain at George R. R. Martin’s process, may wish to read about the real Wars of the Roses, which he researched in writing A Game of Thrones. This epic dynastic battle between the royal houses of Lancaster and York would forever impact the British monarchy, and led to the rule of the Lancastrian Tudor dynasty for over a century.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Conan: Volume 1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories adapted by Kurt Busiek, art by Cary Nord

Robert E. Howard’s pulp classic, “sword and sorcery” hero, Conan the Barbarian, receives the glossy, painted, graphic novel treatment. Although myth and magic are more front-and-center here than in A Game of Thrones, Conan’s world is similarly well-developed, with complex societies and cultures as the backdrop to the non-stop violent action. This volume contains a series of short tales that illuminate Conan’s backstory, including the young warrior’s meeting with the titular frost giant’s daughter, an ice nymph.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan, adapted by Chuck Dixon, art by Chase Conley

Featuring elaborate world-building filled with complex political machinations not unlike George R. R. Martin’s, this graphic novel adaptation follows a rag tag band of adventurers on a quest to find the Infant Dragon Reborn and save their world from evil.

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: Vol. 1: The Journey Begins by Stephen King, adapted by Robin Furth, art by Sean Phillips and Richard Isanove

Readers who enjoyed A Game of Thrones, which refracts the Middle Ages through the prism of the fantasy genre, may enjoy the parallel world that King has constructed, which blends the Old West with Arthurian quest. The story follows a knight-like gunslinger, Roland, as he journeys toward the Dark Tower, claimed to be the nexus of all realities.

Name: John Rimer

The Homeland Directive

August 8, 2012

Author: Venditti, Robert & Huddleston, Mike

Title: The Homeland Directive

Genre: Graphic Novel / Action Thriller

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 148 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Orwellian present

Series:

Plot Summary: This political/medical thriller takes place in a dystopian present setting where Dr. Laura Regan, head of the National Center for Infectious Disease, is a dedicated researcher and authority in the viral and bacteriological field. Her research partner is suddenly murdered and she is framed for his death. Soon she is drawn in the middle of a dangerous bio-terrorist conspiracy and has no option than evade law enforcement in order to uncover the truth. With the help of three rogue federal agents Dr. Regan manages to escape mercenaries and invasive cyber-detectives before the threatening scheme takes a dangerous turn against the lives of all Americans. In The Homeland Directive readers will find a page-turner government frame-up story with visually sophisticated artwork.

 

Subject Headings: Women researchers; Virologists; Murder investigation, Intelligence officers; Political crimes and offenses; Conspiracies; National security United States; Fugitives; Communicable diseases; Frame-ups; Civil rights.

Appeal: Cinematic, fast-pace, paranoid, intriguing, thought-provoking, thrilling, dangerous, suspenseful, action-oriented, plot-centered, political, unique artwork.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Cinematic, fast-pace, intriguing.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works

Edmondson, Nathan. Who Is Jake Ellis; The story follows Jon Moore, a mercenary spy runaway, and his psychic invisible protector Jake Ellis. This is another fast-pace, action-packed and cinematic graphic thriller featuring a fugitive, secret agents, and suspense.

Willis, Connie. Doomsday Book; Kivrin is a time-traveling history student stranded in the Middle-Ages with the Black Death around the corner. To complicate the situation, a virulent influenza epidemic has also erupted at the Oxford research facility of her original time period.  This interesting science fiction plot deals with biological threads to civilizations and appeals to readers interested fictional apocalyptic stories associated with infectious, viral and bacteriological diseases.

Edmondson, Nathan. Activity. A military fictional thriller that follows a highly-trained and secret unit that gathers global conflict related intelligence to defend American interests. Just like The Homeland Directive, this graphic novel centers on advanced and secret missions and operations connected to potentially real larger threads to society.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Guillemin, Jeanne. Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism. A historical account focused on the issue of war and biological weapons from a military and political angle. This book includes information about biological agents and disease transmission, as well as the threat of bio-terrorism proliferation and national security.

Ventura, Jesse. American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us. An account of controversial government conspiracies and cover-ups.For those who enjoyed the intriguing political aspects of The Homeland Directive, Ventura’s investigative work provides insight to real acts of deception in America.

Solove, Daniel J.. Understanding Privacy. A comprehensive overview of the concept of privacy, its complexity, and the boundless debates it generates in today’s evolving technological society.  The Homeland Directive tackles the question of personal privacy vs. national security; this thorough look at this relevant subject may interest those who would like to explore the topic further.

Fanny Camargo

Room

August 8, 2012

  Author:  Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre:  Psychological Suspense, Bestseller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  321

Geographical Setting:  Not specified- probably North America

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  Five-year-old Jack has lived in Room his entire life.  His Ma was abducted at age 19 and forced to live in a one-room shed for seven years.  She has done the best she could raising a small child, making sure he has been fed and healthy and keeping their captor from coming near Jack.  But, as Jack gets older she knows they must get out and away from “Old Nick”.  Escape is dangerous and the outside world will be scary but Jack and Ma are ready for a new life and a second chance.

Subject Headings: Boys-Fiction, Mother and Child- Fiction, Kidnapping-Fiction, Psycopaths- Fiction, Escapes- Fiction

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, detailed characterization, intriguing, realistic characters, well- drawn characters, complex, issue oriented, thought-provoking, bittersweet, foreboding, candid, unusual style

3 terms that best describe this book:  compelling, well-drawn characters, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Anatomy of a Kidnapping- Steven L Berk
In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice.  This nonfiction book would interest readers who want to hear a true story of abduction from an adult point of view.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old; she was abducted from a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behavior raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garridos’ home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.  A Stolen Life was written by Jaycee herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991, up until the present. This book is a very similar, true-life story of Jack’s Ma in Room.

Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a “New York Times” scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  This is a compelling story about a woman breaking free from extreme adversity that readers of Room will thoroughly enjoy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
Che is an eight-year-old boy being raised by his grandmother in New York in the 1960’s.  His parents are radical student activists and Che has been yearning for them since he was very small, but his grandmother has kept him in relative isolation.  One day someone comes to take him back to his real parents and Che enters a wild journey that leads him to Queensland, Australia.  This book deals with the same themes of isolation and kidnapping that Room does.

The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell
A mother and a daughter live quietly in the rustic gatehouse of Shrove House, an isolated British estate. Their life seems perfectly ordinary except that daughter Liza has been kept isolated from the outside world for all of her sixteen years. And that she has seen her beautiful mother commit murder. Now, as the police come searching for a missing man, Liza’s sheltered, strange world begins to fall apart. Room and The Crocodile Bird are both haunting psychological suspense stories in which a child who grew up in isolation now faces the unexpected real world.

Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
When a newspaper heiress is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, she ends up surprising everyone by taking a new name and staying with her captors.  This story is loosely based on the Patty Hearst case and chronicles the next 16 months of Tania’s life in hiding with them.  Like Room, this book deals with the psychological effects of living in isolation and captivity.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

The Body in the Library

July 30, 2012

Author: Christie, Agatha

Title: The Body in the Library

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date: 1941

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting:  St. Mary’s Mead and Danemouth, England

Time Period: 1920s

Series (If applicable):  Miss Marple series #3

Plot Summary:  A body is discovered in Colonel and Mrs. Banrdry’s home library.  Mrs. Bandry instantly knows she needs to bring in her good friend and amateur sleuth, Miss Jane Marple.  By linking people and situations from her town of St. Mary’s Mead to the people and situations of the murder, Miss Marple is able to unravel the mystery a step ahead of the police.

Subject Headings:  Mystery—Fiction, England—Fiction, Women Detectives

Appeal:  Builds in Intensity, Easy to Read, Humorous, Engaging Characters, Intriguing, Multiple Points of View, Series (Characters), Conclusive, Investigative, Plot Twists, Rural, Classic, Clever

3 terms that best describe this book:  Clever, Investigative, Plot Twists

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale (2008)

This book provides an account of the murder that started the modern fascination with detection and nearly ruined the career of one of Scotland Yard’s best inspectors, Jonathan Wincher.

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran (2009)

A look into the notebooks, letters, and drafts that Christie’s daughter, Rosalind kept after her mother’s death.  The book includes two unpublished Poirot short stories.

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (1977)

Agatha Christie’s autobiography tells the story of how she became one of the most celebrated detective writers of all time.  The book delves into her life from childhood until her 70s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

Mma Precious Ramotswe is a local sleuth in her town in Botswana.  If Miss Marple were fat, jolly, and African, she and Precious would be nearly identical.  Precious solves small cases that mirror human nature.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

If Miss Marple is the most famous female detective, then surely Sherlock Holmes is the most famous male.  He can deduce just about anything about anyone.  This collection has some of his most famous cases, all chronicled by Dr. John Watson.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003)

After World War I, Maisie Dobbs becomes a private investigator.  Her first case seems to be one of infidelity, but soon she begins to uncover much darker secrets about the war and herself.

Name: Erin Sloan

Phonogram: Rue Britannia

April 18, 2012

Author: Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

Title: Phonogram: Rue Britannia

Genre: graphic novel, urban fantasy

Publication Date: 2007

Number of pages: 152

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: 2006

Series (if applicable): one sequel

Plot Summary: David Kohl is an aging hip kid, completely self-absorbed and only interested in drinking, smoking and going home with a pretty girl at the end of a concert. He is also a phonomancer, which is a type of magician who works arcane spells through music to find their true meaning. Baptized in the early-90’s by Britannia, the goddess of British guitar pop, he learned how to use magic through the genre of music known as Britpop, defined by bands such as Pulp, Suede, Blur and Elastica. He turned his back on Britannia when everybody started worshipping her, and she has since been long dead. Although he left her many years ago, when he discovers that her corpse is being tampered with he knows he has to save her, since his past is rooted with her. If the enemy succeeds in reviving a dead goddess, his entire past could change, and he could become a Kula Shaker fan with no magical powers. Phonogram is about the magic of music, and not ever letting go of it, but learning to move on when the time comes. Britpop fans will squeal over the many inside references to songs and bands, and for those whose knowledge of Britpop begins and ends with Oasis, there is a handy glossary in the back that defines every single reference made.

Subject Headings: British music, fantasy, magic, England.

Appeal: character-driven, complex, contemplative, humorous, magical, intriguing, flawed, strong secondary characters, well-developed, explicitly violent, detailed setting, journalistic, smart, spare, witty.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-driven, magical, smart.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Britpop!: Cool Britannia And The Spectacular Demise Of English Rock by John Harriss
The heyday of Britpop (1994-1998) began as a reaction against American grunge. In the past bands such as the Smiths and Joy Division were contemptuous of mainstream success, the bands in the 90’s sought it out, with Blur and Oasis competing for the top spot in the charts. It ended in the usual way, with drugs, infighting and egotism. Harris makes the rise and fall of a music movement a fun read.

2. A Version of Reason: In Search of Richey Edwards by Rob Jovanovic

A subplot of Phonogram is the ghost of a memory of David’s ex-stalker who is still haunting the roof of the club they used to hang out at, mourning Richey Edwards. In 1995, the guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers disappeared without a trace. His car was found abandoned on the Severn Bridge and it looked like suicide, but a body was never found. This drove the already-fervid Manics fans into near religious worship. Jovanovic attempts to piece together what might have happened that day.

3. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft (Llewellyn’s Practical Magick) by Raymond Buckland

Buckland’s is one of the definitive books for serious students of magic. Whether you take magic seriously or not, this is one of the books that a fantasy writer would research in order to get the details right for a story. If you’d like to know more about rituals, history, covens and spellwork, this is the book to turn to.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Without Sandman, there could be no Phonogram. Gaiman changed what people thought graphic novels could do with this series about Dream, part of the Endless, consisting of Death, Desire, Delirium, Destiny and Destruction. Gods, goddesses, demons and magic abound in this series.

2. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim is a clueless slacker while David Kohl is knowingly selfish, and the music is indie while in Phonogram it’s Britpop, and the super powers are based on video games instead of magic, but anyone who learned to love David in Phonogram will be smitten with Scott Pilgrim.

3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

The inside references are fast and furious in this series by Alan Moore, but it’s about brit lit instead of brit pop. Captain Nemo, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Allan Quartermain, and Mina Harker team up to fight evil. Packed with action/adventure and literary allusions, this will make any book nerd’s heart beat faster.

Soundtrack: http://sharemyplaylists.com/rue-britannia

Name: Jessica

World War Z

April 4, 2012

Author: Max Brooks

Title: World War Z

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Global

Time Period: not too distant future

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This book takes place after the zombie war has already occurred. Compiling interviews from all sorts of people from many different countries, Brooks attempts to piece together exactly what happened when the dead began to rise. Interviews range from doctors to American housewives to body guards to war veterans, detailing where they were when they discovered this disease wasn’t “rabies” like they were told, and how the world eventually conquered over two million walking corpses. The pacing is moderate, but the short interviews from so many different types of people make this a page turner. Highlights include the doctor in China who discovers “Patient Zero”, a twelve-year old boy who had been bitten while swimming, the body guard assigned to protect a mansion full of rich people and celebrities from zombies while they get filmed to the masses, and a Japanese warrior monk who recounts how he escaped a high rise full of zombies back when he was a socially awkward computer nerd. Part war novel and part survival guide, this book will keep the reader up at night planning out his/her escape route for when the undead come scratching at the door.

Subject Headings: undead, zombies, diseases, epidemics, supernatural, survival (after epidemics) war.

Appeal: builds in intensity, measured, chilling, darker, nightmare, deadpan, intriguing, multiple points of view, explicitly violent, action-oriented, political, stark, conversational, journalistic, straight-forward, well-crafted, well-researched.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: chilling, multiple points of view, explicitly violent.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton.

If after reading World War Z, you are feeling less than prepared for the zombie apocalypse, or any other disaster, this book will teach you how to equip your home with food, water, medical supplies and fuel.

2. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson.

One of the terrifying aspects of zombie lore is that it begins as a disease and turns into an epidemic that no one knows how to cure. The Ghost Map chronicles such an epidemic when cholera breaks out over London in 1854.

3. Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie by Wade Davis.

Zombie mythology originates from Haitian voodoo (voudon), and is an unfortunate stereotype of a complex religion. Davis explains how one goes about making a zombie (a harsh punishment exacted to someone found guilty of a heinous crime), as well as the politics of Haitian culture.

 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Twelve-year-old Oskar has a crush on the new girl (“I’m not a girl,” she keeps telling him) living next door, who only comes out at night. Both bone-chilling and heart-warming at the same time, this updated take on classic vampires who drink real blood and don’t sparkle, compels the reader to fall in love with Eli and root for her no matter how gruesome her actions become.

 

2. Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson

In Koontz’s take on Frankenstein, 7 foot monster Deucalion is living peacefully in a Tibetan monastery when he discovers that his creator is still alive and living in New Orleans. Deucalion must track him down before he creates an army of “posthumans” that take over the world.

 

3, The Wolfen by Whitley Streiber.

Two detectives in New York discover a secret pack of werewolves preying on weak humans who won’t be missed. Streiber plays with the werewolf myth to create a separate race of wolf-men with heightened sense of smell and hearing and superhuman intelligence.

 

Name: Jessica

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

March 26, 2012

Author: Chua, Amy

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A story of a Chinese born American mother exercising extreme parenting. Amy Chua is married to a Caucasian husband and has two daughters. She raises them the “Chinese” way because she believes the Western way of parenting would not prepare them enough for the future. She has her children playing violin and piano, and makes them work hard to become number one. A few things she lists in her book that she does not allow her daughters to do are:

  • Have a playdate
  • Be in a school play
  • Complain about not being in a school play
  • Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • Not play the piano or violin

This book shows the difference between the stereotypical way of Eastern and Western parenting. This book is dramatic, full of bittersweet relationships between mother and daughters, and is also heartwarming. This is a memoir of a competitive, prideful Chinese mother raising her children the “Chinese” way, and should not be taken as a sort of parenting guide.

Subject Headings:Chua, Amy.
Mothers United States Biography.
Chinese American women Biography.
Mothers and daughters China.
Mothers and daughters United States.

Appeal: moderately-paced, bittersweet, compassionate, dramatic, heartwarming, moving, inspiring, intriguing, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, academic, ambitious, prideful, funny, and well-written.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, dramatic, and heartwarming

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Tung, May Pao-may – Chinese Americans and Their Immigrant Parents: conflict, identity, and values (Book about dilemmas the younger and older Chinese generations must face in American Society as well as the differences between the two cultures)

Loh, Sandra Tsing – Aliens in America (A struggle of a girl and her parents, a German mother and a Chinese father, in America)

Mah, Adeline Yen – Falling Leaves: the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter (The journey of a young Chinese girl as she searches for acceptance, love, and understanding)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bates, Judy Fong – Midnight at the Dragon Café (Story of a Chinese mother and daughter living in Ontario in the 1950s, trying to forge their lives in a foreign land)

Carter, Forrest – The Education of Little Tree (Childhood remembrance of an orphaned American Indian boy living in Tennessee with his Cherokee grandparents)

Tan, Amy – The Joy Luck Club (Story of two generations of Chinese American women and their daughters)

Name: Jun Yoon

Malice

February 22, 2012

Author: Lisa Jackson

Title: Malice

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: March 2009

Number of Pages: 480/ Number of Compact Discs: 13 unabridged

Geographical Setting: Southern California

Time Period: Present

Series: Bentz/Montoya, New Orleans Series

Plot Summary:

Malice is a suspenseful, fast-paced story that takes a straight-shooting police officer and places him in an impossible situation. Upon awakening from a coma, Rick Bentz is haunted by sightings of his ex-wife Jennifer. The same woman whose body he identified in a fatal car crash 12 years earlier. When he receives a package with fresh pictures of Jennifer and a copy of her birth certificate with a question mark written on it, Bentz journeys back to California and a sorrowful past he left behind there. His presence sets off a string of murders, menacing phone calls, and more sightings of his dead ex-wife.

Malice is an action-oriented story that pulls the reader along thanks to Jackson’s concise writing and knack for creating intrigue. The reader is implicitly invited to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together, gaining access to other perspectives besides the main protagonist. Jackson combines multiple plot threads and threats in short, sparse chapters that keep the material from being confusing or complex. This is the sixth book in a series, and offers a more in-depth look at a popular character’s past, which in turn makes it a touch more psychological than other bestseller of the week suspense tales. It is moody and serious. The plot is sprinkled with romance as it explores both Rick’s marriage to his current wife Olivia, but the book is focused on suspense and intrigue as Rick races to solve the mystery of why he was led to southern California.

Readers who enjoy clear-cut characters and closed-endings will be happy to know characters are generally familiar and recognizable as good or bad. The ending is definitively closed and ties up all the plot threads neatly.

Subject Headings: Detectives, Serial murders, Husband and wife, Widowers, Secrets, Murder suspects, Serial murderers

Appeal: suspenseful, plot oriented, concise, familiar characters, closed ending, menacing, mysterious, puzzling, thrilling, action filled, multiple plot threads, different POVs (including serial killer), haunting, psychological

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, menacing, thrilling

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Women: why mothers, daughters, and sisters become stalkers, molesters, and murderers, by Larry A. Morris – Jennifer is a compulsive cheater who propels Rick Bentz to return to Southern California and find out if she is still alive and plotting revenge against him for her death 12 years earlier. Readers may enjoy this exploration of what causes women to behave psychotically.

Mistaken identity: two families, one survivor, unwavering hope, by Don Van Ryn – Rick spends nearly the entire book second-guessing his identification of Jennifer’s body at the scene of her car accident. Ryn’s book follows a true case of mistaken identity thanks to a car accident.

In the Still of the Night, by Ann Rule – It is revealed in the prologue that Jennifer did not kill herself but was instead being stalked by someone who may have murdered her. Rule’s true crime story follows the investigation of a death ruled as a suicide but may have been a murder.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Drop, by Michael Connelly – Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch investigates a serial killer and deals with office politics and corruption in this fast-paced but more character-driven mystery story also set in California and focusing on a long-unsolved mystery.

Cold Vengeance, by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child – FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast tries to figure out the details of his wife’s bizarre death 12 years ago and begins to believe it may have been a part of a greater conspiracy in this plot-driven, suspenseful tale that delves into ideas of the occult. (Note: this is a part of a sequence in a larger series; readers may want to at least start with the preceding book, Fever Dream).

Stealing Shadows, by Kay Hooper – Readers who enjoy the psychic yet realistic character of Olivia Bentz may also like Hooper’s protagonist Cassie Neill. Neill is a member of the LAPD who has used her telepathic powers to try and stop serial killers in this fast-paced romantic suspense tale.