Posts Tagged ‘lighthearted’

Boy Meets Boy

November 28, 2012

Author: David Levithan

Title: Boy Meets Boy

Genre: GLBT fiction; Realistic fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 185

Geographical Setting: Not specified. “Gaytopia”

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Sophomore high school student, Paul, does not have an especially profound coming out story. His kindergarten teacher simply sent a report card home to his parents that read: “Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self.” Such is the laidback attitude of Paul’s town where people of all sexual orientations are treated with respect and acceptance. In this community, being gay is not considered a unique trait but rather par for the course. Paul lives in a place where the quarterback of the high school football team is a cross-dresser who also happens to be the homecoming queen. Additionally, the cheerleading squad is not your typical pom-pom crowd but rather a group of Harley-riding bikers. While Paul has had crushes spanning back to third grade, and a few ex-boyfriends along the way, none of these encounters can compare to the remarkable response Paul feels after meeting Noah. The new kid at school, Noah is artistic, kind, and intriguing. Paul falls in love deeply and quickly, yet an ex-boyfriend named Kyle has suddenly regained interest in Paul, which threatens the joy of this new romance. Paul would normally seek advice from his friends regarding the resurgence of his ex-boyfriend; however, his childhood best friend, Joni, is engrossed in a new boyfriend whose dating motives are questionable. In addition to Joni’s absence, Paul’s friend, Tony, has been put under house arrest by his conservative family. Now Paul must find a way to repair his strained friendships while also protecting his new relationship with Noah despite Kyle’s confusing advances. Inspiring and heartwarming, Boy Meets Boy is a contemporary coming-of-age story about friendships, family, and romance. Paul’s narration is unpretentious and thoughtful in this tale of believable teenage issues in an extraordinary town.

Subject Headings: Gay teenagers, High school sophomores, Infatuation in teenage boys, Interpersonal relations, Teenage boys, Teenage romance

Three Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Heartwarming, Hopeful, Inspiring

Appeal: Contemporary, Breezy, Conversational, Thoughtful, Unpretentious, Unhurried, Heartwarming, Lighthearted, Hopeful, Strong Secondary Characters, Inspiring, Character-Centered

Fiction Read Alikes:

The Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw

Aspiring to be his high school’s matchmaker, Lucas endeavors to set up his best friend Cate with the attractive new kid at school, Derek. Despite her initial reluctance, Cate falls for Derek who appears to only have eyes for Lucas. This triangle is further complicated when Lucas returns Derek’s crush which in turn threatens his relationship with Cate. Readers who are looking for additional YA GLBT fiction that discusses how first loves can complicate friendships should pick up this contemporary and humorous read.

How I paid for college: a novel of sex, theft, friendship & musical theater by Marc Acito

Recently graduated from high school, Edward Zanni has a seemingly perfect life. He has a beautiful girlfriend, an intriguing and attractive football-playing friend, and an acceptance to Julliard. When Edward’s father suddenly announces he won’t be able to pay his son’s tuition due to an upcoming marriage, Edward enlists the help of his friends to secure his collegiate future. Edward’s entourage of friends make for enjoyable secondary characters and Edward’s journey of discovering his own sexuality is endearing and believable. Adult and teen Boy Meets Boy fans looking for another humorous coming-of-age story about friendship and self-discovery might enjoy How I Paid for College.

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan

Childhood best friends, Hal and Chuck, are spending a summer apart for the first time in ten years. In order to keep in touch, the two teens set up a blog in which Hal discusses falling for a young Frenchman and Chuck describes his crush on summer camp thespian. Despite Hal’s recently coming out to Chuck, their friendship remains strong and the two boys discuss love and sex in a frank and humorous tone. Boy Meets Boy fans who are looking for another witty, contemporary read about friendship and first loves might enjoy this book.

Non-Fiction Read Alikes:

The full spectrum: a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities

Edited by Boy Meets Boy author Levithan, The Full Spectrum is a collection of non-fiction poems and short stories written by gay teenagers in which they discuss their experiences with coming out, religion, family, friends, and love. Readers who enjoyed Paul’s believable teenage narration of traditional high school experiences might wish to explore similar true stories from gay young adults.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves

In this non-fiction anthology, sixty-four professional authors write letters to their teenage selves in which they discuss issues such as coming out and self-discovery. Readers who are looking for more traditional coming out stories (compared to Paul’s kindergarten report card) might enjoy this title.

When the Drama Club Is Not Enough: Lessons from the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students by Jeff Perrotti

In this guidebook for teens, Perrotti (the founding director of the Massachusetts Department of Education initiative) shares his experiences as an activist for teens while trying to promote gay rights in the school setting. Some Boy Meets Boy fans may find Paul’s accepting high school environment inspiring; those readers seeking materials on how to promote gay rights in their own school should read this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

Twenties Girl

October 31, 2012

Author:  Sophie Kinsella

Title:  Twenties Girl

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  435

Geographical Setting:  London, England

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  As if being recently dumped by her long-time boyfriend and struggling to manage a failing new business weren’t enough to deal with, 27 year-old Londoner Lara Lington suddenly finds herself haunted by her recently deceased, 105 year-old, Great Aunt Sadie, whom she had never met and never cared to know.  Sadie has come back as her 23 year-old self:  a beautiful, irrepressible, Charleston-loving flapper from the Roaring 20’s — and Lara is the only person who can see her.  Sadie’s ghost refuses to rest until she recovers a favorite necklace that has mysteriously disappeared from the nursing home where she resided, and she recruits a reluctant and disbelieving Lara to help with the search.  To Lara’s dismay, Sadie has no qualms about putting Lara in increasingly embarrassing situations as she relives the frivolity of her flapper days and assists in the hunt for her necklace.  Despite her frustrations, Lara soon learns that ghosts can come in pretty handy when dealing with competing love interests, high-stakes business dealings, and swindling family members.  In this heartwarming and funny tale, Lara grows to love and respect the Great Aunt she never knew, whom she learns had to cope with heartbreak and family drama not so very different from Lara’s own modern-day troubles.

Subject Headings:  Young women—Fiction; Families—Fiction; Treasure troves–Fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, humorous, lighthearted, romantic, quirky, well-drawn characters, strong secondary characters, family relationships, imaginative, magical, strong language, contemporary, details of London, details of the Roaring 20’s, breezy, chatty, engaging, informal, witty

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book:  humorous, heartwarming, quirky

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Like Twenties Girl, Helen Fielding’s funny, classic chick lit tale tells the story of a young, single London woman struggling to sort out the intricacies of love, family, and career.  Bridget’s quest to achieve inner poise, lasting love, and the perfect weight unfolds in the form of a diary kept over the course of an eventful year.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham

Readers of Twenties Girl who found pleasure in the ghostly interactions between Lara and Great Aunt Sadie and enjoyed learning about a bygone era, may also enjoy this humorous title by Lorna Graham.  Single, young writer Eve Weldon has moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in search of a job, romance, and inspiration for her writing.  Once settled into her new apartment, she finds it inhabited by the ghost of Donald, a member of the Village’s Beat Generation of the 1960’s, who asks for her help in completing his own unfinished work.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Readers who enjoyed the humor, quirky heroine, family drama, and elements of mystery that form the heart of Twenties Girl, may also enjoy reading about the adventures of Stephanie Plum, the incompetent bounty-hunter at the center of Janet Evanovich’s comic mysteries.  In this first title of the series, Stephanie puts her amateur tracking skills to work in an effort to hunt down a former high-school flame who has been accused of murder.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring 20’s by Lucy Moore

Through the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie in Twenties Girl, readers get a tantalizing taste of the attitudes, glamour, and scandal that epitomized the Roaring 20’s.  This title by Lucy Moore provides an enjoyable and entertaining history of the 1920’s, including discussion of the real-life personalities and the many significant social and political changes that came to define the era.

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

A major plot line in Twenties Girl involves Lara’s desperate attempts to win back the boyfriend who dumped her, despite Great Aunt Sadie’s insistence that Lara deserves much better when it comes to matters of romance.  This popular relationship advice manual counsels women on how to stop obsessing about men who don’t really care about them and to instead focus on finding someone who does.

Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side by James Van Praagh

The ghost of Great Aunt Sadie becomes a major influence in Lara’s life in Twenties Girl.  In this title, Van Praagh explores the mysterious world of ghosts and spirits and, through the use of true ghost stores, illustrates how they actively participate in our daily lives.

Becky King

Can’t Stand The Heat

October 31, 2012

Can't Stand The Heat Book CoverTitle: Can’t Stand The Heat

Author: Edwards, Louisa

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 359

Geographical Setting: Manhattan, New York

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Series: Recipe For Love

Plot Summary:  Miranda Wake is a fiery, headstrong food critic who wants to write a behind the scenes book on restaurants.  Meanwhile, Chef Adam Temple is about to open his very own Manhattan restaurant The Market, which focuses on seasonal, local food.  Sparks and tempers fly when a drunken Miranda first meets the deliciously hot-tempered Chef at the preview for his upcoming restaurant.  Blame it on the liquid courage through deceptively strong drinks that she ends up accepting a challenge by the infuriating Chef to spend a month observing and working for him in his kitchen.   The challenge becomes even more interesting when Adam discovers that this infamous food critic can’t actually cook.  As Adam starts giving Miranda cooking lessons at his apartment, the tension and sizzling heat between these two comes into full play.  Miranda starts to get material for her book while also trying to fight her feelings for the deliciously handsome Adam.  Meanwhile, she must also deal with her younger brother Jess who returns to live with her but has some big secrets of his own.  It is a steamy romance novel that also works for food lovers with its mouthwatering descriptions.  There are strong secondary characters, especially with the brother Jess’ storyline.  Romance readers can enjoy the passionate, independent romantic leads and their fiery face-offs in the kitchen as well as the bedroom.

Subject Headings: Love Stories, Restaurateurs, Cooks, Cooking, Women Journalists, Men/Women Relations, Interpersonal Attraction, Secrets,

Appeal: fast-paced, steamy, romantic, lighthearted, witty, strong secondary characters, upbeat, plot-driven, resolved ending, playful, multiple points of view, engaging, conversational, passionate

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Lighthearted, Witty, Steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Enjoy this contemporary romance novel that has a similar funny, upbeat tone and features another bet that places the protagonists together.  Minerva Dobbs has just been dumped by David before her sister Diana’s wedding because she wouldn’t sleep with him.  In order to cheer her up, her friends encourage her to approach handsome Calvin Morrissey.  But she overhears Calvin make a $10,000 bet with now ex-boyfriend David that Cal has a month to get Min to sleep with him.  This sets off a game between Cal and Min as the two characters try to play each other for their own gain.  But things get complicated and steamy when the two actually fall for each other.  Another fun and sizzling romance novel with an engaging group of characters.

Delicious by Susan Mallery

In the first book of Mallery’s Buchanan series, enjoy some more food with your romance as you get to know the characters Penny Jackson and Cal Buchanan.  The Buchanan family’s Seattle Waterfront restaurant is drowning and Cal is given the task of rescuing it.  He needs the best chef to help save it and that happens to be his ex-wife Penny.  Penny warily agrees to help as she tries to hide the fact that she is pregnant, but Cal has secrets of his own as well.  The two former lovers begin working together and suddenly the sizzling chemistry between them has returned.  Can they resist their desire for each other, or will they ultimately succumb to its succulent possibilities?

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Blue Bailey drops everything and moves to Colorado to be with her ex-boyfriend Monty.  But when she arrives, she discovers that Monty has moved on with a beautiful blonde and Blue is now stranded without a job or home.  When she runs into stranger Dean Robillard, she is forced to hitch a ride with this infuriating, handsome stranger who turns out to be the Chicago Bears quarterback.  Enjoy the steamy love scenes, great verbal banter and funny tone of this engaging contemporary romance.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cooking from the Farmer’s Market by Jodi Liano, Tasha DeSerio and Jennifer Maiser

Did you love the descriptions of food and farmer’s market shopping in the novel?  Then you will enjoy this Williams-Sonoma cookbook that teaches you the “farm-to-table cooking” method.  Learn tips on how to shop at local farmer’s market while you try out the seasonal recipes provided throughout the book.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

If you want to know more about food critics and the restaurant world, then give this book a try.  Ruth Reichl was a food critic for New York Times in the 1990s before becoming editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine.  She discusses her experiences at restaurants she visited publicly as well as anonymously for reviews.  Savor the descriptions of her meals at restaurants, while also getting to know the beautiful art of restaurants and sample some of her favorite recipes and reviews.  A book that food lovers will certainly eat up.

Out of Sync by Lance Bass

An autobiography by N’SYNC pop group member Lance Bass that chronicles his life in the spotlight.  This book discusses his childhood, time with NSYNC and stint as a Russian cosmonaut.  But it also deals with Lance’s struggles with his homosexuality, which he attempted to hided from the public until he officially came out at the age of 27.  Here is a book that allows you to delve into a life story that deals with issues that were faced by character Jess in Can’t Stand The Heat.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

October 24, 2012

Castle Waiting coverTitle: Castle Waiting, Volume I

Author: Medley, Linda

Publication Date: 2006

Pages: 457

Geographical Setting: Castle Waiting, a safe-haven in a fairy tale world

Time Period: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fairy Tale

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Castle Waiting begins at the end of Sleeping Beauty’s story, the part where she runs blindly off with Prince Charming.  Abandoned and essentially purposeless, her former ladies-in-waiting along with few other eccentric characters have created a sanctuary past the brambly hedge at Castle Waiting for those seeking peace and refuge.  The story we are brought into is only one among a host of others before it, and it begins on a dark and stormy night with a clandestine meeting between a lady and a bear, her bodyguard.  Lady Jain, our heroine, is on the run and, as we soon find out, pregnant.  She flees her home in sadness, bound for Castle Waiting.  The premise sounds cliché.  Castle Waiting is anything but.  Upon arrival at the castle, Lady Jain is greeted a stork-headed butler, a doctor who only appears wearing a beaked plague mask, a silently gruff but secretly gentle blacksmith/handyman, three ladies-in-waiting who finally have a lady, and a bearded nun.  Yes, a bearded nun.

Told through a linked set of stories, Castle Waiting draws heavily from fairy- and folk-tale conventions and spins them in a feminist light.  That isn’t to say that all the male characters are weak or bad.  In fact many of them are quite gentle and good—except for the ones who aren’t.  But they are generally not as important as the female characters, who are independent and empowered, taking care of themselves and others.  This is a joyous and humorous and optimistic story.  Bad things have happened, do happen, and probably will continue to happen, but we are assured the happiest of endings.  The art and the text blend seamlessly.  Illustrated in black and white with strong line work that is as expressive as it is lighthearted, the frames are reminiscent of woodcuts adding to the fairytale quality of the work.  This is a great choice for those who have found other graphic novels too over-stimulating.  It would also be a good crossover for those who enjoy romance or fairytale-style fantasy, or those who simply crave a warm, lighthearted read.

Appeal Characteristics: Engaging, joyful, upbeat, lighthearted, feminist, magical, warm, humorous, Fairy Tale, Quirky Characters, expressive art, detailed setting, smart, domestic, charming

Subject Headings: Fairy Tales, Graphic Novels, Magic, Knights and Knighthood, Nuns, Princesses, Pregnant Women

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Joyful, Engaging, Charming

Similar Fiction: 

The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

The much beloved comic strip featuring a boy with an unbeatable spirit and his sagacious stuffed tiger will bring readers the same joy and optimism found in Castle Waiting.  The artwork here is spare but delightfully expressive.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Three sisters return to their hometown to help care for their dying mother in this domestic fiction.  This novel explores the relationships and bonds between women under exceptional circumstances and features an idyllic setting populated with quirky and endearing characters.

These Children Come at You with Knives, and other Fairy Tales Stories by Jim Knipfel

This book offers re-imagined fairy tales with a decidedly darker turn.  The polite eccentricities found in the characters of Castle Waiting are twisted here into vulgar oddities.  The optimism and warmth may be absent from these tales, but the stories will certainly offer laughs—albeit of the morbid and inappropriate variety.  Only readers who enjoy their fairy tales told at a slant and who don’t mind their humor dark should attempt this book.

Similar Non-fiction:

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming

This graphic novel details the true story of Chinese magician and vaudeville performer Long Tack Sam, and his great-granddaughter’s quest to bring him back into the public light.  A moving story told through a collage of artifacts from both his and her life, this biography maintains an upbeat optimism in the face of turbulence, uncertainty, and racism.

In the Kingdom of the Fairies: A memoir of a Magical Summer and a Remarkable Friendship by Susan Coyne

A moving story about a five-year old girl who for one summer believes her pen pal to be a fairy princess.  In reality it is her elderly neighbor, a man who loves literature and wants to encourage the imagination this girl.  This memoir will appeal to any adult who still believes in the power of make-believe.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Another memoir told in the graphic novel format, this story told by a cult comic strip artist details the author’s relationship with her father during her childhood.  Bechdel’s writing is both witty and moving, and her artwork features strong line work and a monochromatic palette that allows the expressions of the characters to stand out.

Name: Jessica

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

August 15, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Author: Mindy Kaling

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 222

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

Mindy Kaling, writer and actress on The Office, details her life and everyday musings through short essays in this memoir.  Readers learn about her journey to becoming a writer for a hit television show, what makes her an awesome best-friend, and lists of random plotlines she has for future movies.  Told through anecdotes Kaling relates her childhood with immigrant parents, developing a love of comedy, living and scraping by in New York, and creating and starring in an Off-Broadway production.  Slightly self-deprecating, Mindy presents herself and thoughts in a witty lighthearted manner.

Subject Headings:

Actors and actresses; celebrities; television writers; women comedians; women television personalities

Appeal:

funny; conversational; witty; easy; relaxed; lighthearted; humorous; sarcastic; episodic; straightforward language; unpretentious; chatty;

 3 terms that best describe this book:

Chatty; witty; lighthearted

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

Similar to Kaling’s book Burnett’s autobiography is told through anecdotes, giving glimpses of her life.   It includes stories on her friendships with some famous stars and her time on the long running Carol Burnett Show.  Those who like the conversational and witty tone of Kaling’s book may also enjoy this read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fey’s memoir tells about her rise as a famous comedienne and gives the reader anecdotes about her everyday life.  This book may appeal to readers who liked hearing about Kaling’s work to realize her dream as well as seeing how she is just like us most days.

Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families, and other Calamities by Marian Keyes

In this collection of essays, Keyes reflects on her life  experiences, including writing, relationships, and shopping.  This book may appeal to those who liked Kaling’s candid and conversational tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope

A history of a fictional town written by a fictional character based on the NBC television series Parks and Recreation.   A witty read with a television tie in, those who like Kaling’s connection to the office may like this read.  Also, Kaling mentions a love and respect for Amy Poehler who stars in Parks and Recreation.

Mumbo Gumbo: A Madeline Bean Novel by Jerrilyn Farmer

In the fifth book in this series Madeline is hired to replace a writer on the culinary show Food Freak.  This is a mystery novel that may appeal to readers who like witty writing styles.  Also, for readers who may want to take a fictional look at being  writer for a television show with a quirky staff.

The Book of Other People by Zadie Smith

With contributions from many notable authors, this book is a compilation of short stories based on the prompt to create a character.  Readers who liked Kaling’s essay format, with short, and sometimes very short chapters, may enjoy this read.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

August 15, 2012

Author: Grogan, John

Title: Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

 Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 291 p.

Geographical Setting: Florida, United States.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This story follows Marley, an adorable hyperactive Labrador retriever, and his owners as they embark on a journey of growth as a family. Since the first days at his new home, Marley proved to be a charming trouble-maker mastering the art of adventurous mischief. Grogan, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his wife decided owning a puppy early in their marriage. Little did they know that Marley would make such an impact in their lives. In this heartwarming and humorous memoir Grogan includes unforgettable anecdotes full of hilarious naughty behavior, such as the time when Marley was kicked out of obedience school, or when he shut down an entire beach, and the time when he swallowed an 18-karat solid gold necklace. Not much was out of Marley’s reach, even protecting a teenager neighbor after a stabbing attack. But more than an adorable bad dog, Marley became inspiration, comfort and support for this family through good and difficult times.

Subject Headings: Labrador retriever – Florida; Dogs as pets; Men and dogs; Dogs; Human/animal relations.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, heartwarming, humorous, engaging, homespun, lighthearted, upbeat, friendly, family-centered, moving, details of pet-owner relations, dog-centered.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  heartwarming, humorous, engaging.

 ***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson. Adam March is an ambitious businessman who suddenly looses everything, including his job and family. He is sentenced to community service at a homeless shelter where he meets Chance, an abused pit bull mix, who teaches him about survival.  Just Like Marley and me, this inspirational read strongly emphasizes the power of dog companionship and bonding through life changing events.

Stay by Allie Larkin. After seeing the love of her life getting married, followed by a Rin Tin Tin marathon, drunk and heartbroken Van Leone makes an impulse online puppy purchase. To her surprise, she receives a peculiar one-hundred-pound German Shepherd that responds to Slovakian commands only and introduces her to a handsome veterinarian. This funny chick lit story shares Grogan’s upbeat, dog-centered, and feel-good elements.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. In this inspirational and moving novel, a philosophical lab terrier mix named Enzo narrates his life story as companion for a family from which he has learned what he needs in order to return as a human on his next life. This novel also features strong human-pet relationships with humorous and heartwarming tones.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horrowitz.  Based on cognitive science, this book provides some insight about how dogs perceive the world around them and their relationships.  This a good read for those who would like to get better understanding about their Marley-like energetic and neurotic dogs.

Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost by Barbara Abercrombie. This is a moving collection of tales celebrating beloved animal-human experiences. Columnist Grogan certainly knows how painful the loss of a pet can be; readers will find comfort on these joyful and tender stories authored by different writers.

Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog: A 3-Step Positive Dog-Training Program by Julie A. Bjelland. With 15 years of experience, Bjelland offers practical and helpful information and advice emphasizing a simple and effective approach for positive dog training. For those who want to avoid the embarrassment of being kicked out of domineering obedience schools.

Fanny Camargo

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.

Vision in White

April 4, 2012

Author:  Nora Roberts

Title:  Vision in White

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  325

Geographical Setting:  Connecticut

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:  Bride Quartet

Plot Summary:   Mac is the photographer in a successful wedding planning business that she runs with her three best friends.  Her days are not only filled with photo shoots, development, and constant meetings, but also the drama that comes along with weddings.  On one of her photo shoots, she meets Carter, the brother of the bride, and together they must overcome several challenges in their budding relationship.   This lighthearted romance with realistic, well-developed characters will warm your heart.

Subject Headings:  Weddings, Wedding Photographers, Wedding Planners, Friendships, Mother/daughter relationships, Teachers, Romantic Relationships

Appeal:  Romantic, Lighthearted, Sensual, Series characters, Well-developed, Character-centered, Steamy, Realistic, Heartwarming, Strong secondary characters, Humorous, Contemporary

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Romantic, Character-driven, Heartwarming

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer:  A Memoir by Claire Lewis- Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer describes the author’s experiences as a wedding photographer.  Readers that are interested in Mac’s profession will enjoy Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer.

I Know Just What You Mean:  The Power of Friendship in Women’s Lives by Ellen Goodman- I Know Just What You Mean explores the value of female friendships.  I Know Just What You Mean will appeal to readers who enjoyed the special bond between Mac and her best friends.

One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead- One Perfect Day examines the wedding industry and common complications that wedding planners face.  One Perfect Day and Vision in White both have weddings and wedding planners as a subject. 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Once Smitten, Twice Shy (Wedding Veil Wishes, 2) by Lori Wilde- When her wedding videography business begins to fail, Trish makes a wish on her best friend’s magical wedding veil to get out of debt. Like Vision in White, Once Smitten, Twice Shy is a character-driven, heartwarming contemporary romance that deals with the wedding industry.

What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips- Actress Georgie York must deal with the complications of a failing career, a failed marriage, and the reappearance of her former sexy costar.  Both What I Did for Love and Vision in White are steamy, humorous contemporary romances.

Wild Man Creek (Virgin River, 14) by Robyn Carr- Colin Riordin and Jillian Matlock make a connection in the small town of Virgin River while trying to escape the complications of their stressful lives. Like Vision in White, Wild Man Creek is a character-driven contemporary romance.

Elissa

 

The Next Always

April 4, 2012

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Boonsboro, Maryland

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): Book One of The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy

Plot Summary: Clare is a war widow who has returned to her hometown with her three young sons.  Beckett Montgomery and his brothers are remodeling the Inn BoonsBoro, which happens to be across the street from Clare’s bookshop.  Beckett’s unrequited love for his best friend’s widow may finally have a chance now that Clare’s moved back to their quaint hometown. The author’s richly detailed descriptions of the small town and the remodeling project with a touch of the supernatural nicely frame the budding romance between Clare and Beckett .

Subject Headings: Small towns; Historic buildings – conservation and restoration; Second chances; Architects; Infatuation; Hotels; Single mothers; Widows; Booksellers; Homecomings; Small town life; First loves; Men/women relations.

Appeal: easy, engrossing, descriptive, richly detailed, strong sense of place, leisurely-paced, relaxed, unhurried, atmospheric, comfortable, heartwarming, hopeful, lighthearted, magical, optimistic, romantic, engaging, familiar, realistic, recognizable, series (characters), strong secondary characters, sympathetic, contemporary, detailed setting, small-town, accessible, colloquial, conversational, simple, unembellished, details of small town, details of restoration of old building.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: comfortable; heartwarming; richly detailed.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Under the Tuscan Sun  by Frances Mayes.  Under the Tuscan Sun and The Next Always both evoke strong sense of place using lush descriptions of the small towns where the story takes place and rich details of renovating once magnificent buildings (Mayes a countryside villa and Roberts an Inn).  Both also follow a love story that is framed by the restoration process.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran.  Doran amusingly recounts his relocation from LA where he was a TV producer to a tiny Tuscan town where he and his wife embark upon remodeling a 300 year old farmhouse. Doran’s optimism and witty commentary lead up to a happy-ever-after that The Next Always readers will appreciate.

My Boyfriend’s Back: True Stories of Rediscovering Love with a Long-Lost Sweetheart by Donna Hanover.  Beckett’s love for Clare has been unrequited since high school, but he gets a second chance with her in The Next Always.  Like the title suggests, My Boyfriend’s Back explores true stories of first loves rekindled later on in life. Both books will leave readers feeling hopeful about loves from the past.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Wedding Dress by Virginia Ellis. This light, heart-warming historical fiction by Ellis (who typically authors romance novels) centers around a Civil War widow and her sisters as they try to find hope in a bleak post-war life by sewing a wedding dress for the youngest sister.  Like The Next Always, The Wedding Dress offers hope, love, a happy ending, and even a ghostly twist.

The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods.  This is the heartwarming first book of in the contemporary romance series, Chesapeake Shores.  Like the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, Chesapeake Shores is about second chances and men/women relations and gives readers a strong sense of place.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr.  Virgin River is a leisurely-paced contemporary romance about a widow looking to start over in a small town.  A strong sense of place and a heartwarming story will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Next Always.

Name: Ally C.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie & Julia [sound recording] : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Julie Powell is a 29 year old living in New York City who is fed up with her dead end secretarial job and depressing apartment in Queens.  In an attempt to find deeper meaning in her life, Julie takes up an ambitious project: she resolves to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year.  To document what she calls “The Julie and Julia project,” she begins writing a blog that captures not only every frustration encountered in following each recipe to exaction but also one that reveals aspects of her marriage, her friends, and her wry observations about daily life.  This memoir delivers a more fleshed out version of events than her blog but still retains its chatty, observant, and hilarious tone.  This inspiring and encouraging book is well written and honest.   It is as much about the character of Julie and her relationships as it is a food memoir that that conveys the challenges and triumphs of a novice young cook attempting masterful French cooking in a tiny New York apartment.

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

Appeal: compelling, easy, engrossing, earnest, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, thoughtful, upbeat, quirky, realistic, well developed characters, character-centered, domestic, accurate, contemporary, details of cooking, chatty, candid, conversational, engaging, informal, witty, descriptive, informative, entertaining,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engaging, witty, entertaining

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry: Love, Learning and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Like Julie and Julia, this book is a memoir that centers on cooking.  The author recalls how she changed careers and attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Like Julie and Julia, the author recalls humorous anecdotes, explores love relationships, and uses cooking as a metaphor for life. 

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. Like Julie and Julia, this is a memoir that is centered on food.  It recounts the life and career of the restaurant critic from The New York Times.  Like Julie and Julie, this is a heartwarming account that takes place in New York, features a strong woman character and contains humorous anecdotes and recipes.

Wizenberg, Molly.  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. Like Julie and Julia, this memoir was derived from a popular blog that recounts the author’s life in terms of cooking and recipes.  Also like Julie and Julia, the author’s accounts are sometimes touching and sometimes humorous in this charming account.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Rose Edelstein has the ability to taste the emotions of others when tasting their cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel is a witty, offbeat account of a woman’s relationship with food and with loved ones.

Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tito, a doting daughter who cooks every meal for her parents in Mexico, finds love and herself through her cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this is a witty story that centers on cooking, love relationships, and contains recipes.

Mileti, Meredith.  Aftertaste, A Novel in Five Courses: In this novel, Mira Rinaldi is a New York City restaurant owner whose life is in a shambles.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel contains many descriptions of delicious food and recipes and features a strong female character who overcomes personal struggle and gains self-worth through cooking.

Name: Meghan M.