Posts Tagged ‘mesmerizing’

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

Water For Elephants

October 22, 2009

Title: Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 335

Playaway: 11.5 hours (unabridged)

Genre: Historical Fiction/Best Seller/Audio Book

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: 1931 & Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The time period is the Great Depression. Jacob Jankowski, a young man of twenty-three, is about to take his final exams in veterinary medicine and join his father’s veterinary practice when his life falls apart. He learns that his parents have died in a car accident leaving him with nothing. Jacob, suddenly homeless and heartbroken, leaves school and hops a train unaware that it is a circus train. When Uncle Al, the unscrupulous owner of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, learns that Jacob studied veterinary medicine, he hires him to be the circus’ vet and Jacob finds himself immersed in the exotic, gritty and often dangerous world of a traveling circus. While Jacob cares for the menagerie of animals that make up the circus’ animal acts, he finds himself falling in love with both a magnificent, intelligent elephant named Rosie and the beautiful circus performer, Marlena , who is married to August, Jacob’s cruel, sadistic boss. Jacob and Marlena manage to fight their growing attraction to each other until one fateful day when there is a horrific incident that involves Jacob, Marlena, August and even Rosie. This engrossing story, told in flashbacks by Jacob who is now in his nineties and living in a nursing home, paints a vivid and accurate picture of circus life while following the circus and its unusual and sometimes freakish inhabitants as it travels from town to town across the United States.

Audio Book Review: In this entertaining audio version of Water for Elephants, two distinct voices bring to life the story of Jacob Jankowski. David LeDoux provides the voice of Jacob as a 23 year old, a voice that is full of passion, enthusiasm, and wonder at all he sees and experiences and John Randolph Jones provides the voice of Jacob at the age of 90 or 93. Jones’ voice, cracked, reedy, and world weary, brings to life the elder Jacob as a man who, at the age of 93,rails against his current surroundings as he reflects on his past, wonders what happened to the young man he used to be and asks the question, who is the old man in the mirror?

Subject Headings: Circus performers; Reminiscing in old age; Depressions –1929-1941; Traffic accident victims; Human/animal relations; Parents — Death; Veterinarians; Men/women relations; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Women circus performers; Circus animals; Women horse trainers; Elephants; Human-animal communication; Manic-depressive men; Circus.

Appeal: engrossing, page-turner, vivid, quirky secondary characters, authentic, accurate, exotic, circus performers, cinematic, story told through flashbacks, resolved ending, accurate, lush, detailed descriptions of the life of a traveling circus, Great Depression, gritty, nostalgic, romantic, mesmerizing.

Three terms that best describe this book: Exotic, Nostalgic, Circus

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day – The interconnected short stories that are featured in this book offer readers a glimpse into the lives and relationships between the townspeople of Lima, Indiana and the acrobats, clowns and other circus performers of the Great Porter Circus who spend their winters in Lima during the years 1884-1939. (Circus performers, narrative that shifts across time, circus elephants and trainers).

Embrace Me by Lisa Samson – Valentine who is scarred and disfigured, and Lella, a quadriplegic, become best friends while making a living working in the Roland Wayfaring Marvels and Oddities. (Circus performers, traveling circus).

Waterborne: A Novel by Bruce Murkoff – Engineer Filius Poe,  pretty Lena McCardell, and Jewish outlaw Lew Beck all journey to the Hoover Dam construction site in Nevada during the Great Depression hoping to find work and start their lives over. (Protagonists trying to start their lives over, Great Depression, romance, men/women relationships).

The House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate Morton – In 1924 a tragedy occurs at Riverton House and Grace the Hartford’s family maid is a witness to it. When a filmmaker who is working on a movie about the Hartford family contracts Grace, her long suppressed memories of the event come back and Grace, who is now ninety-eight, recounts through flashbacks what really happened. (Engrossing, story told through flashbacks, authentic recreation of an earlier period).

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top by Janet M. Davis – Fascinating history and examination of the traveling railroad circuses at the turn of the century.

Love, War, and Circuses: The Age-Old Relationship Between Elephants and Humans by Eric Scigliano – Examines the relationships and connections between humans and elephants.

Lions & Tigers & Mares, Oh My! by Gay Louise Balliet –Humorous and touching stories about the daily life of a veterinarian in eastern Pennsylvania  who treats large and exotic animals from farms, exotic game parks, traveling circuses, and horse breeders.

Name: Maggie


October 20, 2009

Title: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (mid1930s to Winter 1944)

Author: Art Spiegelman

Publication Date: 1986

Number of Pages: 159

Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical/Biography/Memoir

Geographical Setting: New York, and World War II Poland

Time Period: The Present, 1930’s and 1940’s

Series: Part 1 of 2

Plot Summary: Art Spiegelman tells the events of his parents’ last years as survivors of the Holocaust, and the effect it has had on him. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. Each scene begins at Spiegelman’s father’s home in New York. An important theme emerges as the reader grasps that fact that Art has had an extremely difficult time adjusting to his own life, due to the burdens he bears regarding his parents’ experiences. As both author and artist, Spiegelman portrays a very realistic view of the difficulties his family has faced as first and second generation Holocaust survivors in this graphic novel format. Readers won’t want to miss the second part of the story in Maus: A Survivor’s Tale II: And Here My Troubles Began.

Subject Headings: Holocaust, Memoirs, Jewish history, Hitler, Europe, War survivors, Comic books, Children of Holocaust survivors, Father and son, Jewish-American men, Jewish-Americans, Biography, Graphic Novels (nonfiction), History, Wars, World War II, Concentration Camps, Anti-Semitism, The 1930s, The 1940s, The 1970s, Auschwitz survivors, Nazi prison camps, Genocide, Suicide, Wartime Poland, Contemporary New York, Brutality, Deprivation, Gas Chambers, Judaism, Jewish, Politics, Genocide, Polish Army, Old Eastern Europe, Stereotypes

Appeal: engaging, stimulating, compelling, realistic, relatable, struggle, survival, dark, intense, visual, historical, heart-wrenching, family, relationships, fathers and sons, symbolism, heroism, ominous, tormenting, complex, chilling realism, suffering, humor, mesmerizing, colorful, flawed

Three terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Intense,Visual

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Berlin: A City of Stones (2001) by Jason Lutes This graphic novel takes place in Berlin during the time period between the two World Wars. It uses black and white art, but it is not a gentle read. This novel shows some of the political changes that were, including the rise of the Nazi party and the increasing discrimination of the Jews. Readers should be aware that this book involves scenes which include sexual content and sexual orientation. Berlin was originally published in comic book form, 1-8.

A Jew in Communist Prague: Loss of Innocence (1997) by Vittorio Giardino — The first book in a series, recounts the childhood of Jonas Finkel, whose father is mysteriously taken by police in 1950 Communist Prague. Young Finkel is victimized by anti-Semitism, removed from school, forced to work as an errand boy, and isolated from his peers. The story ends hopefully as Jonas and his mother learn that his father is alive and being held in a prison camp.

A Generation of Wrath (1984) by Elio Romano – The story reads like a memoir, but the author considers it to be a work of fiction. It is an account of the author’s survival of five years in 11 different Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Occupied Poland. Elio Romano was 15-years-old, a member of an Orthodox Jewish family living in the quiet Polish town of Oswiecim, (or Auschwitz), when the German poured across the border. After he tried to escape to the Middle East, Romano was captured and dragged back to Poland, forced to help build the camp which soon became Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was liberated by the Americans in April of 1945, one of only 36 survivors of a last-minute German massacre.

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Mendel’s Daughter: A Memoir (2006) by Martin Lemelman – This graphic novel is a true story about the life of a Jewish girl growing up in Poland during the 1940s, describing how the Nazi persecution led to the deaths of her parents and other members of her family, while she and her brothers survived the war by hiding in the neighboring forest. The story is in the form of a “memoir” told in the voice of Lemelman’s mother, Gusta, a holocaust survivor. Lemelman’s charcoal drawings and photographs give the story a very subdued, historical point of view.

Night (1960) by Elie Wiesel Night is an amazing autobiographical narrative, in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. One of four children, Wiesel was the only one in his family to survive the holocaust. Translated from the French, the English version of this book captures the author’s youthfulness. Wiesel’s autobiography is easily an equal comparison to The Diary of Anne Frank due to the suffering shared, and the emotional and spiritual journey the author must deal with as a young boy.

Fax From Sarajevo (1996) by Joe Kubert — This graphic novel details the true account of artist Ervin Rustemagic who was trapped during the Serbian seige of Sarajevo. The only way Ervin could keep in touch with the outside world was to send faxes to various people he knew. Joe Kubert is an American friend of Ervin’s and he received faxes, which he turned into this book. Ervin and his family (his wife Edina and two children, Maja and Edvin) were forced to stay in war-torn Sarajevo as the Serbs continued to attack the city. This book won an Eisner Award for best new graphic album and it won a Harvey Award for best graphic album of original work.

Name: Maurine