Posts Tagged ‘inventive’


November 7, 2012

Bossypants book coverTitle: Bossypants

Author: Fey, Tina

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 272

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Chicago, New York

Time Period: 1970’s to Current Times

Plot Summary: With this hilarious and engaging autobiography, Tina Fey can add clever writer to her list of accomplishments.  Bossypants tells the story of Fey’s life along with her personal advice and general thoughts.   It tells the story of her awkward upbringing in Pennsylvania before moving on to her embarrassing college/theater years as well as her time with Second City, SNL and then her current role as creator and star of 30 Rock.  Fey’s road to success is told in a straightforward manner while also remaining humorous.  There are stories about the people she has worked with through improv and television shows, and she shares intimate stories without being too gossipy.  She shares personal essays on topics such as motherhood and the treatment of women in charge.  Her conversational style pulls the reader in, and you might find yourself wishing you could hang out with her.  Tina Fey manages to be self-deprecating while remaining endearing and it is a fast read.  A great read for those seeking a witty, lighthearted and fun memoir.  Readers who enjoyed her style might want to check out the audiobook version of this autobiography, which Tina Fey herself narrates skillfully.

Subject Headings:  American wit and humor, Women comedians, Women television personalities, Fey, Tina 1970-, Saturday Night Live (Television program), Motherhood-Humor, 30 Rock (Television program), Celebrities-humor

Appeal: Witty, observant, self-deprecating, autobiographical, conversational, candid tone, humorous, sarcastic, insightful, pop culture references, clever, straightforward, earnest, easy pace, inventive, chatty style, unpretentious, engaging

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Witty, Insightful, Candid

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson

A novel that was made into a movie, this book deals with the issue of balancing family and work as hedge fund manager and mother of two Kate Reddy tries to do.   A humorous, moving tale that is a great book for readers who enjoyed Tina Fey’s thoughts on trying to be a successful mother and boss.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Enjoy this Women’s Lives and Relationships novel whose main character could almost be Tina Fey/Liz Lemon.  It follows television writer Ruth Saunders who is living in Los Angeles along with her sassy grandmother Rae, who raised Ruth after a violent crash that killed her parents and left young Ruth with gruesome facial scars.   Ruth’s dream comes true when her autobiographical sitcom is picked up by a large network.  But the dream is not such a fairytale, as Ruth must deal with egotistical actors, difficult show executives, a crush on her boss and her grandmother’s upcoming wedding.  A witty and charming novel that has a smart, witty protagonist who screams Tina Fey and deals with workplace social issues mentioned in Bossypants.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

A fascinating read with a self-deprecating, witty style that Fey could enjoy.  Judd Foxman is jobless and living out his depressing life in the basement of a crappy house.  He is newly separated from his wife who he caught having an affair in the most outlandish yet amusing way, but must return home to his crazy dysfunctional family to sit shiva after the death of his father.  An intimate, candid tale of a family full of flawed characters and hilarious moments with each other.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

A nonfiction book that explores the dark side that can lurk in the world of young girls’ princess fascination.  Here is a subject for those interested in the motherhood advice given by Tina Fey, and maybe even a great read for Tina herself.  Orenstein explores the troubling aspects of the princess phenomenon and early sexualization messages given to girls.  Her research takes her to places including Disneyland, American Girl Place, a Miley Cyrus concert and a child beauty pageant.  An engaging read for anyone trying to raise girls or fascinated by the subject.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Loved reading a biography by a comedy star and want even more? Then this similarly styled memoir should fit the bill.  Comedy writer and star of NBC’s The Office and now The Mindy Project, Mindy candidly talks about growing up as a chubby Indian girl in Massachusetts, her road to comedic fame as well as her thoughts on life, love and friendship.  Enjoy some more humorous tales on comedy writing, television show business and the awesomeness of food.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

Get an overview of the history of female comedians within this last half century including the witty Tina Fey.  It traces female comedians and their struggle to conquer a male-dominated world, from Phyllis Diller in the 1950s to current comedians like Chelsea Handler and the women of SNL.  Enjoy this inside look at the evolution of female comedians and the personal interviews with the people involved.

Name: Margita Lidaka

The Map of Time: A Novel

August 1, 2011

Author: Félix J. Palma


Title: The Map of Time: A Novel


Genre: Science Fiction


Publication Date: June 28, 2011


Number of Pages: 624


Geographical Setting: London, England


Time Period: The Victorian Era/The year 2000


Series: First in a trilogy.


Plot Summary: Set in Victorian London, where the British Empire’s great achievements and opulent wealth coexist with Dickensian poverty, occultism and grave-robbing, The Map of Time braids together three storylines in which a skeptical investigator is called upon to discover the truth about murders linked to purported incidents of time travel: an aristocrat who goes back in time to save his beloved, one of the Ripper’s victims; a woman who flees to the year 2000…straight into a battle between humanity and a scourge of automatons; and a plot to steal literary classics and wipe their authors from existence.


Subject Headings: Time travel, tragic love, murder, mystery, H.G. Wells, Victoriana, science fiction, Jack the Ripper, automatons, history.


Appeal: Strange, magical, smart, intriguing, enthralling, inventive, luscious, imaginative, eccentric.


3 terms that best describe this book: Surprising, mesmerizing, satisfying.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors-

The Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku. (Teleportation, time travel, time machines, force fields, interstellar space ships, science fiction, and potentially attainable future technologies)

Time Machines, Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction by Paul J. Nahin. (The history of time travel in fiction; the fundamental scientific concepts of time, spacetime, the fourth dimension, and paradoxes of time travel)

Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time by Robin Le Poidevin. (The mysteries of time travel, the trouble with paradoxes, the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time)

 3 Relevant Fiction Authors and Works

Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Ronald L. Mallett and Bruce Henderson. (Time travel, mention of H.G. Wells as an influence, physics, scientific exploration, and intriguing storytelling)

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. (Time travel, romance, tragic love, cleverly weaved plot and execution)

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu. (Dynamic characters, time travel, science fiction, quantum physics, complicated plot twists, thriller)

Name: Mindy Foote

The Man in My Basement: A Novel

November 18, 2009

Author: Walter Mosley

Title: The Man in My Basement: A Novel

Genre: African-American/Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: The village of Sag Harbor, NY

Time Period: Present day (2004)

Series: No

Plot Summary: Charles Blakey’s life is falling apart at the age of thirty-three.  Unemployed, drinking far too much, and estranged from his only friends, he spends his days reading science fiction novels alone in his family’s three-story Sag Harbor home.  The Blakey family has a long history in Sag Harbor dating back to the 17th century when they arrived in New York as free blacks.  Now, however, Charles is in danger of losing the home his family has owned for seven generations.  Nearly penniless, Charles is far behind on his loans, and the bank is threatening to take his house.  Then one day Charles hears a knock at his door.  A mysterious, 57-year-old white man named Anniston Bennet has an unusual propostion.  If Charles is willing to rent him his basement for 65 days, Bennet will pay him nearly $50,000.  Though the money would solve his financial problems, Charles is wary.  Who is this mysterious white man, and why did he chose Charles for this strange request?  Why is Bennet insisting on complete secrecy, and what is contained in the large packages he wants delivered to Charles’ basement?  Though suspicious, Charles begins the monumental task of preparing his basement for Bennet’s arrival.  In the process, he discovers a family heirloom – a trio of ancient African masks – that rekindles in him a sense of belonging, family, and identity.  Charles begins to rethink his decision to rent to Bennet, and his anxiety is multiplied when he learns Bennet plans to construct a prison cell for himself inside Charles’ basement so that he can pay for “crimes against humanity.”  Ultimately, Charles’ need for money and cautious curiosity prevail, and he allows Bennet to lock himself in the basement.  As the 65 days pass, the voluntary “prisoner” and his “warden” engage in several heated conversations that explore themes of guilt, punishment, responsibility, and redemption which all lead to an unpredictable ending that will challenge and haunt readers.

Subject Headings: African-American men;  Unemployed workers;  European-American men;  Rich men;  African-American families — History;  African-Americans — Material culture;  Landlord and tenant;  Race relations;  Power (Social sciences);  Identity (Psychology);  Atonement;  Home ownership;  Debt;  Alcohol use;  Los Angles, California;  Psychological fiction.

Appeal: gripping, steady, realistic characters, vivid, strong secondary characters, mythic, character-centered, complex, literary references, inventive, thought-provoking, sexually explicit, small-town setting, contemporary, haunting, philosophical, psychological, suspenseful, frank, some strong language, realistic dialogue

Three terms that best describe the book: Haunting, Philosophical, Realistic

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Dirty Bird Blues: A Novel by Clarence Major – Manfred Banks is an aspiring blues musician in Chicago who’s life is falling apart thanks to his taste for Old Crow whiskey (aka the “Dirty Bird”).  His wife Cleo has taken their daughter and left him for a preacher, and he can’t find work.  Will he be able to quit the bottle and regain his family or will he spiral into drunken oblivian?  (realistic characters, psychological, realistic dialogue, alcohol abuse, unemployment, search for identity, race relations, inventive)

The Book of Illusions: A Novel by Paul Auster – Since losing his wife and young sons in a plane crash, Vermont English professor David Zimmer has been lost in an alcoholic haze.  When a chance T.V. viewing of old silent film star Hector Mann makes him laugh for the first time in months, Zimmer sets out to track down the actor.  This is a difficult task, however, because Mann had disappeared years before at the height of his fame.  Zimmer’s quest to find Mann leads him to confront death, chaos, and his own guilt and leads to haunting encounter with the old film star.  (gripping, steady pace, realistic characters, complex, haunting, psychological, frank language, alcohol abuse, inventive)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – This classic work traces a young African-American man’s life journey from the South to New York City during which he concludes he is an “invisible man.”  After growing up trusting, the narrator encounters shocking injustices at college, at a paint factory job, and as a member of Harlem’s Communist Party.  These experiences convince him that to whites he has no identity.  He’s an invisible man on to whom they project their own preconcieved ideas.  (gripping, haunting, realistic characters, psychological, thought-provoking, race relations, philosophical, vivid, search for identity)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 by James Oliver Horton – Co-written by professors of sociology at George Washington and George Mason Universities, this book traces the lives of the first free blacks in America from the American Revolution through the Civil War.  It examines this black communities struggles with racial injustice while striving to maintain a unique identity.  This book is about Charles Blakey’s own ancestors.  The Blakey family decended back to these same free black families in Sag Harbor, and it is with this family past that Charles longs to reconnect.

African Masks from the Barbier-Mueller Collection by Iris Hahner-Herzog – Written by a noted ethnologist, this book presents nearly 250 of the finest African masks from the renowned Barbier-Mueller collection.  With 100 color photographs and in-depth essays explaining the origins and uses of the masks, this book offers a fascinating look at fascinating African art form.  As Charles Blakey cleans family heirlooms from his basement, he discovers a trio of “passport” masks from his African ancestors.  These masks help him reconnect with his roots and start to reform his identity.

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan – Written by a law professor at the University of British Columbia, this book traces the rise of the corporation over the past 150 years and contends that today it is a pathological institution.  As a system “programmed to exploit others for profit,” the modern corporation is a dangerous possessor of great power over society.  When Anniston Bennet wishes to imprison himself in Charles’ basement, it is to atone for the great evils he has committed in service to corporate interests.  He’s exploited the African people and literally killed children to provide profit and power to the corporate elite.

Name: Russ

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

October 28, 2009

Author: Philip K. Dick

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1968

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Mainly post-apocalyptic San Francisco but also Seattle and rural Oregon.

Time Period: 2021

Series: No.  However, K.W. Jeter wrote a SF series of sequels to Blade Runner, the movie based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Plot Summary: The year is 2021, and World War Terminus has killed millions, driven countless species into extinction, and forced much of mankind to colonize Mars with the help of androids.  Those remaining on Earth are at constant risk from radioactive fallout and try to distract themselves from their grim lives by dialing up emotions on their mood organs, following the new religion of Mercerism, and caring for rare and much-coveted living animals.  One of these remaining Earthlings is Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who works for the San Francisco Police Department.  With androids banned from Earth for fear of the havoc they could wreak, Deckard’s job is to track and “retire” any illegal android immigrants from Mars.  When reports are received of eight new android fugitives on Earth, Deckard is sent to track them down, but there is a problem.  The Rosen Association’s new Nexus-6 android is so human-like that the Voigt-Kampff empathy test is potentially worthless in helping to differentiate them from humans.  As Deckard enters on his mission, many questions are raised:  What if the Voigt-Kampff test fails, and he mistakenly “retires” a human?  Can he outwit such sophisticated androids who are willing to fight for their survival?  What should he make of his complicated feelings for the Rosen Association’s android Rachael?  Most importantly, however, will Deckard make enough bounty to finally trade his electric sheep for a real one?

Subject Headings: Androids — California;  Bounty hunters — California;  Detectives — Los Angeles, California;  Twenty-first century;  Deckard, Rick;  Dystopias;  Los Angles, California;  Science fiction, American.

Appeal: engrossing, fast-paced, intriguing characters, cinematic, complex, plot twists, inventive, thought-provoking, urban, futuristic, post-apocalyptic, dangerous, suspenseful, speculative, satirical, philosophical, psychological, concise, direct and accessible language.

Three terms that best describe the book: Fast-paced, Futuristic, Philosophical

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hydrogen Steel by K.A. Bedford — Former homicide detective Zette McGee is called out of retirement to help an android friend accused of murdering his family.  Efforts to clear her friend’s name take Zette deep into space to confront the powerful artifical intelligence Hydrogen Steel as well as her recent realization that she too is an android.  (plot twists, thought-provoking, suspenseful, futuristic, philosophical, intriguing characters, artificial intelligence)

Chimera by Will Shetterly — In a grim twenty-first century, androids and humans genetically crossed with animals serve as slaves for the rest of mankind.  When a cheetah woman asks PI Chase Maxwell for protection against a wrongful murder conviction, a thrilling sci-fi mystery begins that explores the definitions of freedom and humanity.  (plot twists, though-provoking, suspenseful, philosophical, futuristic, fast paced, intriguing characters, artificial intelligence)

Man vs. Machine edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers —  This themed anthology of fifteen short stories explores a future world where humans must interact and compete with computers who achieve genuine Artificial Intelligence.  Includes stories by Jean Rabe, Simon Brown, Ed Gorman, and Rick Hautala.  (futuristic, artificial intelligence, thought-provoking, complex, inventive, speculative, philosophical)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood —  This NY Times Notable Book from 2002 explores the efforts of humans over the past three centuries to build machines that resemble themselves.  Included are examinations of human-like mechanical flute and chess players from the 18th century and a robotic duck that fooled and fascinated Europe.  This book’s exploration of actual efforts at artificial intelligence compliments Dick’s speculative look at a future with androids.

The Seekers: A Bounty Hunter’s Story by Joshua Armstrong with Anthony Bruno —  This fascinating memoir tells the story of a New Jersey-based team of bounty hunters who capture 85% of their fugitives using spiritual, non-violent methods.  Although Rick Deckard often violently “retires” his targeted fugitives, the spiritually informed bounty hunting in this book resembles Deckard’s changing attitude toward his job as he begins feeling empathy for androids.

I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick by Emmanuel Carrere —  Written by critically-acclaimed French author Carrere, this biography of Philip K. Dick traces the sci-fi author’s traumatic early life, drug experimentation, and multiple marriages.  It also, and most importantly, looks at the philosophies and creative inspirations that influenced Dick’s more than fifty novels including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Name: Russ