Posts Tagged ‘introspective characters’

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

The Shack

April 11, 2012

Author: Wm. Paul Young

Title: The Shack         

Genre: Inspirational fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of pages: 252

Geographical Setting: Oregon

Time Period: Present day

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack is a novel that takes readers on a journey from heartache and despair through metamorphosis into acceptance and joy. Mackenzie Allen Phillips, a family man who makes his home in the state of Oregon, has a faith in God that is nearly obliterated beyond recognition because of a great and unexpected tragedy in his immediate family. However, by going into and through his worst fears, both figuratively and literally, he is able to finally find peace and an infinitely more satisfying and wonderful life than he had ever dreamed possible. His faith in God thus becomes a living, growing relationship between the Savior and the saved.

Subject Headings: God, Christianity – The Trinity, Serial murderers, Faith, Family relationships, Friendship, Oregon

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, detailed (characters), introspective (characters), well-developed characters, familiar (characters), inspirational, issue-oriented, resolved ending, thought-provoking, tragic, bittersweet, detailed setting, mystical, philosophical, suspenseful, graceful, metaphorical, thoughtful

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.) Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch – MacCulloch takes a long and detailed look at Christianity from its beginnings to modern times. Includes influences that helped it to develop as well as discusses differences among today’s Christian sects or denomination.

2.) Founding Faith: the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman – This text explores the beginnings of faith from the founding fathers on into early America. Waldman debunks popular myths as well as largely discussing what America is most famous for regarding religion – freedom of belief and faith.

3.) Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West by Timothy Egan – Egan takes us on a journey into the rich history of the pacific northwestern United States and carries us on into today’s struggles, adventures and possibilities for the future of the area and its inhabitants. This text is at once moving and depressing, but always realistic.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

.) For One More Day by Mitch Albom – Charles Benetto, a grief-stricken alcoholic, comes to terms with himself and the loss of his mother in this moving, inspirational novel. The author takes us on a journey back into time to truly repair Benetto’s relationship with his deceased mother.

.) Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed stranger: New and Selected Stories by Lee Smith – A collection of bittersweet short stories with a distinctly southern feel, these tales are ones of love, forgiveness, adaptation, and redemption. Smith includes both new tales and old favorites here also.

.) Where No Storms Come by John F. Deane – This Christian love story is at once a poet’s delight and a thought-provoking romance. It tells the tale of two individuals who each pursue a life in religious vocations – lives filled with brutal awakenings and other eye-opening spiritual revelations.

Name: Melissa

The Brief History of the Dead

May 28, 2009

Author: Kevin Brockmeier

Title: The Brief History of the Dead

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2006

Pages: 252

Geographical Setting: Antarctica and The City (an afterlife inhabited by the dead whose memory is still alive on earth)

Time Period: An indeterminate, near future

Plot Summary: The City is an afterlife populated by the dead whose memory lives on in the world. The inhabitants of The City will remain there as long as someone who know them while alive continues to live on earth. On earth, though, a devastating epidemic has wiped out the population. Laura Byrd, a scientist stranded on an Antarctic research expedition, may be the last person alive. As the population of The City dwindles, the remaining residents begin to discover that Laura is the one thing they all have in common. With failing equipment, disappearing colleagues, and harsh conditions, Laura struggles to survive. Alternating between the perspectives of Laura and various inhabitants of The City, the story draws its characters through their memories.

Subject Headings: afterlife, apocalypse, death, memory, female scientists, Antarctica

Appeal: leisurely-paced, deliberate, structured, introspective (characters), well-drawn secondary characters, quirky, mystical, connective, episodic, flashbacks, tragic yet hopeful, stark, timeless, details of Antarctic expedition, bleak, contemplative, accessible, casual, graceful

Three terms that best describe this book: Contemplative, connective, reminiscent

Relevant Fiction Authors/Works: The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett—a combination of the extraordinary with the every-day, a concentration on memory, and colorful characters. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold—vivid afterlife, character-driven, and full of grace and wonder. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger—fantastic elements, well-drawn characters, reminiscence, various perspectives/times, purposefully driven.

Relevant Non-fiction Authors/Works: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith by Studs Terkel—a collection of interviews with doctors, death-row parolees, survivors, AIDS workers, and others who have confronted the idea of death, their beliefs and expectations, their personal histories. Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra—combining spirituality with science, Chopra explores the concept of life after death, and death’s important place in the journey of a soul. Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski—a combination travelogue and memoir, this book tells the tale of a woman who moves to Antarctica to escape a painful relationship with her parents.

Name: Elizabeth Ludemann

No Country for Old Men

February 18, 2009

Author: McCarthy, Cormac

Title: No Country for Old Men

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publication Date: July 19, 2005

Number of Pages: 320 pp (hard cover edition)

Geographical Setting: Texas (near U.S./Mexico border)

Time Period: 1980

Plot Summary: Llewelyn Moss is a near down-on-his-luck Vietnam veteran that is hunting antelope by the big river when he’s first introduced in McCarthy’s book of dealings-gone-awry, life’s poor decisions, the regret that it brings, and the manhunts that soon follow. After finding a cache of heroin and over 2 million dollars left at the scene of a botched drug trade, Moss risks his wife’s and his own life for the money. While on the run, a local law enforcer, Sheriff Bell, tries to track down Moss to offer him a possible way out of the situation. But Anton Chigurh, a hired professional who tracks Moss for the cartel, sees no other resolution than recovering his employer’s losses and ending Moss’ life. The chase is relentless, bloody, and violent. But intertwined with scenes from the manhunt, each character offers some introspective peaks into their lives and how it all came about. No Country for Old Men is starkly intimate as much as it is filled with full-tilt violence. Each main character struggles for a certain level of redemption and/or an ongoing definition to their lives. Each man subscribes to his own school of thought, his own system of justice and morality. Each man’s fierce drive for survival and supremacy is contained in ingenuity, stun guns, pistols and rifles, promises made, coin flips, and the tooth-and-nail fight for a comfortable life without regret. It is a narrative that is syrupy in that it is thick and rich in the visual appeal that comes from the words and the uneasiness that emits from the characters during the chase. The progression never skips over its own rhythm and never fully depicts all the details of anything. The reader is welcome to read about most everything, but you are not welcome to know it all.

Subject Headings: 1980s; Texas; Mexico; Southwest Border; War Veterans; Sheriffs; Hunters; Assassins; Drug Trafficking; Drug Trade; Heroin; Money; Caches; Manhunts; Chases; Murder; Violence; Revenge; Good vs. Evil; Suspense or Thriller Fiction

Appeal: Dark, raw, bleak, gritty, suspenseful, violent, vengeful, multiple character points-of-view, characters seeking redemption, layered characters, cinematic, arid landscape, gloomy, taut, bloody, tenacious, relentless momentum, evenly-paced, tense

Similar Authors & Works: According to most reviewers, McCarthy is most similar to William Faulkner in that both develop characters that struggle with deep issues of morality and humanity. Like No Country for Old Men, Faulkner’s Light in August is set in the South and revolves around three men dealing with inner turmoil and difficult outer circumstances. James Carlos Blake’s In the Rogue Blood is a western that mirrors McCarthy’s bloody western tales. Like most of these stories, inner conflict with good and evil are prevalent.

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: Drug Lord: The Life & Death of a Mexican Kingpin – True Story is a biography of Pablo Acosta by journalist/writer Terrence E. Poppa. It is a rags-to-riches tale of one Mexican boy that becomes the drug czar of Ojinaga, a city just across the border from Big Bend country of Texas. It tells of his rise to being responsible for 60% of the drugs going into the United States and his arrangements with the Columbian drug cartels. Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide by Peter Andreas is an in-depth look into the current happenings on the world’s busiest country border. Acting as the single barrier between a rich state and a poor one, the U.S.-Mexico border patrol has to defend against drug smugglers and the migrant labor forces. This book delves into how law enforcement must escalate to keep up with, not only the drugs and the illegal aliens, but also the effects of NAFTA.


Andy