Posts Tagged ‘multiple plot lines’

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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Before I Wake

October 3, 2012

Cover Before I Wake Author:  Dee Henderson

 Title:  Before I Wake

 Genre: Christian Fiction & Romantic Suspense

 Publication Date:  2006

 Number of Pages:  381

 Geographical Setting:  Justice, Illinois

 Time Period:  Contemporary

 Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  Haunted by the death of a colleague in a botched undercover investigation, former FBI agent Rae Gabriella is looking for a change in career, as well as scenery.  Taking her ex-fiancé, Bruce Campbell, up on his offer to join his Private Investigation firm, she looks forward to settling into a less stressful life in the small town of Justice, Illinois.  The ideal of small-town life is soon shattered when two unrelated young women visiting Justice are found dead in their hotel rooms within a week; both having died in their sleep.  Are their deaths an unfortunate coincidence or the result of something much more sinister?  Sheriff Nathan Justice asks Rae and Bruce for help in getting to the bottom of the mysterious deaths, unwittingly setting Rae up as a potential victim.  Rae must deal with a personal crisis in faith, as well as growing romantic feelings for both Bruce and Nathan, as she races to pursue leads that indicate a killer is on the loose.

Subject Headings:  Women Private Investigators — Illinois — Fiction;  Women Travelers —Fiction; Tourists — Crimes Against — Fiction; Illinois – Fiction

Appeal:   fast-paced, compelling, atmospheric, dangerous, suspenseful, romantic, well-developed characters, introspective, inspirational, investigative, multiple plot lines, plot-driven, open-ended, contemporary, small-town, dramatic

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe Book:  fast-paced, suspenseful, small-town

Fiction Read-alikes:

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

Against his wishes, U.S. Marshall Jake Taylor is assigned to protect the life of his best friend’s widow, Federal Judge Liz Michaels, whom Jake blames for his friend’s suicide.  This is the first volume in the Guardians of Justice series, and Hannon is a Christy Award winning author.  Like Before I Wake, this book is a fast-paced, compelling Christian Romantic Suspense title with a law-enforcement theme, where the main female character becomes a potential victim of an unknown predator.

Hideaway by Hannah Alexander

Dr. Cheyenne Allison withdraws to a small Missouri town to escape feelings of guilt over her sister’s tragic death.  When vandalism in town leads to serious violence and injuries, Cheyenne finds her loyalties divided between the town’s mayor and a charismatic neighbor.  This is the first book in the Hideaway series and is a Christy Award winning title.  Like Before I Wake, this book is a fast-paced, Christian Romantic Suspense title where a smart, professional woman seeks a new start in life in a small town, but is soon drawn into danger in her new surroundings.

I Heard that Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark

A new wife doubts her husband’s innocence when he becomes a suspect in an investigation into the death of his first wife four years earlier, as well as the disappearance of a neighbor over 20 years ago.  Clark is known for writing suspense stories and mysteries that are considered gentle reads, and the lack of sex, excessive violence, and strong language may have extra appeal to readers of Christian fiction.  This fast-paced, plot-driven suspense title by Clark won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery & Suspense in 2007, so may also satisfy fans of Romantic Suspense.

Related Non-fiction:

There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray

A strike by unionized workers at the local tile factory and the ongoing negotiations with management provide a major subplot in Before I Wake.  Dray’s book provides a history of organized labor in the United States, an examination of the social, political, economic, and cultural impact unions have had over the years, and a discussion of the level of influence unions maintain in today’s troubled economy.

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

In Before I Wake, a clandestine meth lab figures prominently in the rash of serious crime affecting Justice, Illinois; with recognition of the ruinous impact the drug trade can have on small-town America.  Reding’s book presents a study of the devastating effects of meth production on a small, agricultural town in  Iowa, the lives ruined by the drug, and the socioeconomic fallout associated with the meth culture.

Detectives Don’t Wear Seat Belts: True Adventures of a Female P.I. by Cici McNair

The fictional character of Rae Gabriella in Before I Wake is an ex-cop and former FBI agent who is just starting out as a private investigator.  This title is an entertaining and candid memoir by Cici McNair, a successful female private investigator in New York City.  McNair describes her early life, the effort required to break into the male-dominated P.I. profession, and the many cases, adventures, and colorful characters that filled her days.

Becky King

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 Postmistress

September 26, 2012

Author:  Sarah Blake

Title:  The Postmistress

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  384

Geographical Setting: Franklin, Massachusetts and London, England

Time Period:  1940-41:  War-torn London/Pre-WWII America

Series: N/A

Plot summary:  After leaving a letter with the local Postmistress to be given to his young wife should he not return, a doctor departs his small, Massachusetts town for London in 1940 to volunteer his services to care for those injured in the Blitz.  A gritty, female war correspondent, devastated by all she has witnessed in war-torn Europe, travels to Massachusetts in 1941 to deliver news of the doctor to his wife.  She soon suspects that the Postmistress may be keeping a devastating secret similar to her own.  The novel offers an engrossing portrait of a small American town’s growing understanding of the issues at stake in the war, and is heartbreaking in its depiction of the impact war can have on those not caught in actual battle.

Subject Headings:  World War II; London Blitz; Radio; War Correspondents; American Home Front; Small-town Life; Postmasters; Secrets

Appeal: compelling, atmospheric, emotionally-charged, romantic, dramatic, foreboding, heartbreaking, well-developed characters, multiple plot lines, character-driven, thought-provoking, historical details (World War II), small-town, descriptive, lyrical

Three Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book:  emotionally-charged; small-town, historical details (WWII)

Fiction Read-alikes:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

A British author strikes up correspondence with the members of a literary society on the German-occupied island of Guernsey during WWII, and quickly becomes invested in their lives.  Like The Postmistress in its portrayal of the impact of WWII on a small community not caught in the midst of battle.

Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald.

BBC radio staff struggle to report the news and maintain morale during the chaos of WWII London.  Like The Postmistress in its depiction of the impact of war on the personal lives of civilians, and the quest to get information out to the public.

Coventry by Helen Humphries.

The lives of a widow, a single-mother and her son intertwine as they struggle to escape the chaos and carnage of Coventry, England after it is destroyed by German bombs in 1940.  Like The Postmistress in its portrayal of the devastating impact of war on civilians and the strength of women in dealing with the realities of war.

Related Non-fiction:

WWII on the Air: Edward R. Murrow and the Broadcasts that Riveted a Nation by Mark Bernstein.

The story of Edward R. Murrow and his fellow radio broadcasters who brought news of WWII to Americans at home.  Includes recordings of historic broadcasts.  In The Postmistress, the fictional character of Frankie Bard worked for Murrow.

Blitz: The Story of December 29, 1940  by Margaret Gaskin.

An historical account of one of the worst nights of the London Blitz, the event that drives the story of The Postmistress from afar.

Women of the Homefront: World War II Recollections of 55 Americans by Pauline E. Parker.

A collection of personal stories that illustrate the impact of WWII on American women at home, a perspective shared by The Postmistress.

Becky King

Brimstone

August 8, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker, Audiobook read by Titus Welliver

Title: Brimstone (3rd book in Appaloosa trilogy)

Genre: Western

Publication Date: May 5, 2009

Number of Pages: 304 (Paperback), 4. 5 Hours (Audio Book)

Geographical Setting: The West (United States), New Mexico, Texas

Time Period: Old West: Early to Mid 1800’s

Series: Book 3 of Western Appaloosa Trilogy

Plot Summary: In this follow up to Parker’s Appaloosa and Resolution, we meet up with Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two gun-slinging old friends who have a reputation for cleaning up towns as lawmen-for-hire. In this adventure, Virgil seeks to find the woman who stole his heart in the town of Appaloosa, Allie French. Moving across New Mexico and Texas, Cole and Hitch find Allie and the three try to start over in Brimstone. Things are not that easy as too much has happened between Allie and Virgil. The town of Brimstone also has its problems which Cole and Hitch are hired to solve as town deputies. Tricky solutions are their specialty one of which ties together the book wonderfully. The dialogue and friendship between Cole and Hitch makes this story more character-driven and along with the gun-slinging showdowns, mysterious murders, and fast-paced action, makes for a wonderful western.

Subject Headings: Western stories; Friendship — men; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Murder; Redemption

Appeal: Character-driven, Exciting, Suspenseful, Fast-paced, Multiple plot lines, Atmospheric, Series characters, Descriptive, Detailed setting, Rural, Friendship story, Well-drawn characters

3 Terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Exciting, Character-driven western

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters by Bill O’Neal

True facts and stories as well as myths and folklore about 225 well known gun-slingers and those all but forgotten. A book for those wondering what it was really like to be a gunslinger in the Wild West like Virgil and Everett.

2) Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn by Evan S. Connell

For those readers looking for more information on the historical events of the Wild West in a form which reads more like a novel, this non-fiction story of Custer’s demise at Little Bighorn fills the reader with facts as well as a glimpse into Native American life and the characters involved in the battle.

3) The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

A book of essays about her experience moving from a city in the east to very empty Wyoming, Ehrlich captures what it must have been like to live in the West during the time of Virgil and Everett and what it might take the reader to adjust to cowboy life, wide open spaces and the harshest of winters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Black Powder, White Smoke by Loren D. Elsteman

This is a story about the adventures of a freed slave and white bandit who eventually cross paths and team up as they are pursued by the law for different reasons, and their fates and lives intertwine. This book is for readers who liked the fast-paced adventure and atmosphere of the West evident in Brimstone.

2)  The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard by Elmore Leonard

A collection of atmospheric, and gritty Western short stories written by Leonard over 50 years, including 3:10 to Yuma, this is for those readers who appreciated Brimstone for its rich characterizations, plot twists and fast pace.

3) The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

Touted to be one of the books which shaped the Western fiction genre, this classic novel from more than fifty years ago tells the story of the adventures and travels three frontiersmen who live in and long for big open spaces. A good pick for those who want to try earlier works of the genre and who enjoy the relationship between Virgil and Everett in Brimstone.

Name: Bridget Optholt

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

July 30, 2012

Author: Douglas Adams

Title:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1979

Number of Pages:  216

Geographical Setting:  Earth, various other planets and spaceships

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable):  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series Book #1

Plot Summary:

With only seconds to spare before the world ends, undercover alien Ford Prefect saves his best friend and himself from annihilation. As the aliens known as Vogons destroy the Earth, Ford and Arthur Dent become galactic hitchhikers on a Vogon ship.  Eventually the two travelers meet up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend Trillion, a woman Arthur tried to pick up at a party once, and a depressed robot named Marvin.  They travel across space and time, learning about the mysteries of the universe (like where all the ballpoint pens go).

Subject Headings:  Science—Fiction, Interstellar Travel, Interplanetary Voyages,

Appeal:  Fast -Paced, Clever Language, Sarcastic, Humorous Tone, Suspenseful, Multiple Points of View, Quirky Characters, Multiple Plot Lines, Plot-Driven, Imaginative, Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Well-Crafted, Witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Quirky Characters, Witty

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Megacatastrophes! by David Darling and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (2012)

Chronicles nine bizarre ways the world could suddenly end and how likely those endings are.

The Living Cosmos by Chris Impey (2007)

A study in astrobiology and how it leads to a better understanding of humanity’s place in the universe.

The Space Tourist’s Handbook by Eric Anderson and Joshua Piven (2005)

Details of the voyages made by wealthy tourists going to the International Space Station.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Malachi Constant is given the opportunity to travel the universe with a beautiful woman, who happens to be another man’s wife.  The woman’s husband, Winston Niles Rumfoord, has other plans and the trip does not turn out as any of them expect.  Similar because

Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor

All Lister wants to do is get home to Earth, so he boards the Red Dwarf, a ship that will travel to Earth in six or seven years.  Soon he finds himself three million years in the future and the only surviving member of the human race.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

After rescuing a girl named Door, Richard Mayhew finds himself in London Below, a completely new world of magical creatures both good and evil.  Richard and Door begin a quest to save the world.

Name: Erin Sloan

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-450h.jpg?w=194  Author:  Alexander McCall Smith

  Title:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  Genre:  Mystery, Gentle Read

  Publication Date:  1998

  Number of Pages: 235

  Geographical Setting:  Bostwana

  Time Period:  Contemporary

  Series:  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Plot Summary:  Sleuth Precious Ramotswe opens the first and only detective agency in Bostwana.  Mma Ramotswe is for hire and investigates a variety of cases, from a father who thinks his daughter has a boyfriend to a case of a clinic doctor with different personalities, depending on the day of the week.  The story’s main mystery involves a missing boy.  It is up to Mma Ramotswe to find him.

Subject Headings:  Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character) – Fiction, Women private investigators – Fiction, Bostwana – Fiction, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Imaginary organization) – Fiction.

Appeal:  atmospheric, leisurely-paced, character-centered, compelling, relaxed, hopeful, insightful, engaging, multiple plot lines, folksy, gentle, clever, warm tone.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, hopeful, gentle.

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

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda.  This is a woman detective series featuring the character Jade del Cameron.  The first book is about brave, stubborn Jade del Cameron, who after the Great War, leaves New Mexico to come to Africa to help fulfill a man’s dying wish, meeting murder and mystery along the way.   This book is similar because of the African setting, mystery and character-driven with historical details.

Mrs. Pollifax and the lion killer by Dorothy Gilman.  Mrs. Pollifax accompanies her young friend Kadi Hopkirk to the African country of Ubangiba, where Kadi’s childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king.  This book was chosen because it features a series character, Mrs. Pollifax and mystery and women spies.  This book of the series takes Mrs. Pollifax to Africa.

Marriage bureau for rich people by Farahad Zama.  Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau after driving his wife crazy during his retirement.  His business because a success so he hires, Aruna, who is hiding a tragic past.  While this is not a mystery, it shares enjoyable characters and warm tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels.  This is the real-life fairy tale about an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king, of an impoverished fishing village on the coast of West Africa.  American Peggy, while trying to please her ancestors struggles to turn this impoverish village around.  This would be a good suggestion because it is a warm story and is about life in an African village.  It gives the readers hope.  Author of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency praised the book, “This is an astonishing and wonderful book about a real life Mma Ramotswe.  It is an utter joy.”

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: confessions of a Botswana safari guide by Peter Allison.  This book is about the tales of a safari guide and his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos and other unpredictable animals.  This book gives a more detailed look at the beautiful country of Bostwana and its inhabitants.

Lineage of despotism and development: British colonialism and state power by Matthew Lange.  Author Matthew Lange argues against the assumption that past imperialism hinders future development prospects of colonized nations.  Book contains stats and analyzes what effects of colonial rule had on African countries. There are some case studies on Guyana and Bostwana.  There is mention of Botswana becoming independent from Great Britain in the book so this book is to explore the history of the country.

Name:  Olivia Button

Kill Me if You Can

July 23, 2012

Author: James Patterson & Marshall Karp

Title: Kill Me if You Can

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 361

Geographical Setting: New York City; Paris; Amsterdam

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Not applicable

Plot Summary: Matthew Bannon’s life changes the day he is at Grand Central Station and finds a bag filled with diamonds. An ex-marine and a struggling art student, it seems like his luck is changing, until he realizes that two of the world’s greatest assassins Marta Krall and the elusive Ghost are hunting him and his girlfriend, Katherine. Now his and Katherine’s lives are at stake, and as they try to stay two steps ahead, Matthew learns the price of trying to change his luck. An unraveling, suspenseful plot that from the first paragraph grabs the reader’s attention. The worldwide manhunt for Matthew Bannon keeps him and the reader’s on their toes. The plot twists are unexpected and unfold at the height of the action, only causing the action to increase tenfold. The romance, the assassins, and the antihero protagonist are all a hook that will cause any reader to become addicted to Patterson’s work.

Subject Headings: College students — Fiction. Art students — Fiction. Assassins — Fiction. Diamonds — Fiction. Revenge — Fiction. New York (N.Y.) — Fiction. Suspense fiction. Suspense fiction.

Appeal: compelling, gritty, hard-edged, suspenseful, multiple points of view, vivd, plot twists, multiple plot lines, sexually explicit, strong language

3 terms that best describes this book: breakneck pacing, action-oriented, engaging characters

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob has Invaded America, by Robert Friedman

A journalist tells the story of the Russian mob during the fall of Soviet Russia to their infiltration of the United States. The book discusses the mob’s role in the financial world, drug trafficking, weapons sales, etc. If you were interested in the Russian mob in Kill Me if You Can, then this book will is great for background history.

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones, by Greg Campbell

A freelance journalist describes the destruction done to the community surrounding the Sierra Leone diamond mines. Three to four percent of all diamonds sold are smuggled and mined in war zones, at the expense of the resident’s lives. The diamond trade plays an integral role in Kill Me if You Can, and this book will help Patterson readers understand about this black-market business.

Making the Corps, by Thomas E. Ricks

Follow a platoon through their first year of Marine Corp training, from when they arrive at Parris Island, to their first year as members of the Corp. In this tenth anniversary edition read the new afterward from the author. Matthew Bannon learned all his fighting skills from the marines, now read about real live marines who endured the same training

3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Rules of Deception, by Christopher Reich

After the death of his wife, Dr. Jonathan Ransom receives a mysterious note that sets in motion a world-wide manhunt for him. Along the way, he discovers that his wife had many secrets that he struggles to unveil. A good choice if you liked Kill me if You Can’s fast-paced manhunt.

The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum

An amnesia victim wakes up to the name Jason Bourne, hired by a U.S. Government agency to assassinate his rival Carlos. A good read-a-like for readers who like to read about hired assassins like in Kill Me if You Can.

What Doesn’t Kill You, by Iris Johansen

CIA operative Catherine Ling is on the hunt for Hu Chang who creates a deadly drug that others are hunting him for. Now Catherine has to try and protect Hu Chang, her mentor growing up, from those who want to take the new drug for themselves. A good read for those who enjoy the break-neck speed of Patterson’s work and stories about assassins.

Name: Alison Kulczak

The Last Templar

April 18, 2012

Author:  Raymond Khoury

Title:  The Last Templar

Genre:  Thriller, Adventure

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  523

Geographical Setting:  United States, Turkey, Greece, Palestine

Time Period:  13th Century, Contemporary

Series:  Sean Reilly Thrillers

Plot Summary:  After witnessing the theft of valuable artifacts on loan from the Vatican, archeologist Tess Chaykin joins with FBI agent Sean Reilly to help track down the thieves and recover the artifacts.  Discovering that one of the artifacts leads to the famed hidden treasure of the Knights Templar, Tess and Sean engage in an adventure -filled treasure hunt across the Mediterranean. The treasure they discover is not what they expect; instead, it is a powerful secret that can change the face of Christianity.  This fast-paced, suspenseful thriller with loads of action will take the reader on an historical adventure that spans eight hundred years.

Subject Headings:  Knights Templar, The Crusades, Archeology, The Vatican, Catholic Church, Christianity, Conspiracies, Cryptography, Treasure Hunting, Women Archeologists

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, dramatic, flashbacks, cinematic, investigative, multiple points of view, multiple plot lines, action-oriented, thought-provoking, historical details, details of The Knights Templar

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, dramatic, fast-paced

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Crusades:  The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land:  by Thomas S. Asbridge-    The Crusades tells the story of the Holy Wars from both the Muslim and Christian perspective.  The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land will appeal to readers interested in the battles of the Templars in The Last Templar.

Discovery!:  Unearthing the New Treasures of Archeology by Brian M. Fagan- Through first-hand accounts, renowned archeologists discuss how their discoveries have helped to mold our understanding of history.  Discovery will appeal to readers who are interested in Tess Chaykin’s profession in The Last Templar.

The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale- The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed utilizes recently discovered Templar inquisition transcripts to provide a more thorough examination of the enigmatic order of medieval knights.  Both The Last Templar and The Templars:  The Secret History Revealed have the Knights Templar as a main topic.

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

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte- When hired to assassinate two Englishmen visiting Madrid, seventeenth -century sword for hire Diego Alatriste finds himself torn between his conscience and fulfilling his contract.  Like The Last Templar, Captain Alatriste is a suspenseful, fast-paced novel rich in historical detail.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown-  While working to solve a murder, a French cryptologist and an American symbologist  uncover secrets that can discredit the traditional beliefs of the Christian Church. Both The Last Templar and The Da Vinci Code are suspenseful, fast-paced novels about the Catholic Church, conspiracies, and cryptography.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne- While investigating the death of a monk, an American journalist becomes entangled if a web of conspiracy involving the Catholic Church.  Like The Last Templar, Sanctus is a dramatic, fast-paced novel filled with conspiracy and nonstop action.

Elissa

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

April 11, 2012

cover
Author:  Pagan Kennedy

Title:  The First Man-Made Man:  The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

Genre:  GLBTQ, Non-fiction

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  224

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain, India

Time Period:  1920s-1960s

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Michael Dillon wasn’t the most famous person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but he was the first.  Born Laura Dillon, Michael spent years feeling as if he had been given the wrong body, and at the age of 24 began seeking out ways to correct this problem, beginning with testosterone pills and continuing through the successful creation of a penis by a noted plastic surgeon.  Despite getting what he wanted, life did not continue on in the easy fashion that he had hoped for—his family disowned him, he fell in love with a male-to-female transgender individual upon whom he performed illegal surgery, and his quest for spiritual enlightenment took some surprising turns.  The leisurely pace makes the story easy to read, and this book features a straightforward writing style and historical details, especially of a medical nature.

Subject Headings:

  • Dillon, Michael, — 1915-1962.
  • Transsexuals — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Sex change — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender identity — Great Britain.
  • Cowell, Roberta, — 1918-
  • Transsexualism — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender Identity — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Genitalia — surgery — Great Britain.
  • History, 20th Century — Great Britain.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy — history — Great Britain.
  • Transvestism — Great Britain — Biography.

Appeal:  deliberate, leisurely paced, flawed characters, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, tragic, historical details, details of medical advancements, accessible, informative, straightforward, compassionate

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  straightforward, informative, historical details

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders—Jennifer Finney Boylan:  This book also tells the story of a person changing genders, but it’s a memoir and provides a personal look at the process.

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl—John Colapinto:  Examines similar gender issues, but looks at them through the story of, as the subtitle states, a boy who was raised as a girl from birth, complete with surgery to make him appear anatomically female.

Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic–Alison Bechdel:  This graphic memoir examines family dynamics through the story of the author’s coming out as a lesbian to her closeted gay father, who commits suicide soon after.  Both of these books deal with issues of sexuality and gender.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides:  This novel explores a secret family history that has led to Callie’s existence as an intersex individual.  Much like Michael Dillon, she has always felt something was off, and has to decide how to proceed.

Stone Butch Blues—Leslie Feinberg:  The main character, Jess, is living as a man in the 1960’s and 1970’s, dealing with society’s pressures and prejudices.   This book has themes of identity and community that relate it to The First Man Made Man.

Sacred Country—Rose Tremain:  Follows Mary through decades of her life as she attempts to change her gender, and deals with issues of identity and loneliness.

Name:  Amanda