Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

April 6, 2011

Brava, Valentine

Author: Adriana Trigiani
Title: Brava, Valentine
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships, Gentle Reads
Publication Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 332
Geographical Setting: New York City
Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: In Adriana Trigianai’s second novel in the Very Valentine series, Brava, Valentine further expands on the love stories, family dramas began in the first, and adds new twists and passions that make up the life of main character Valentine Rancalli.  The novel opens with the wedding of Valentine’s beloved grandmother and fellow custom shoemaker, Teodora.  Valentine is then faced with changes to her life and her business.  Throughout the story, Valentine further discovers her passion for custom shoemaking and past love Gianluca.  She takes on a new avenue in expanding her business, and expanding her heart in her long-distance romance with Gianluca.  Of course, her family dynamics and relationships take center stage as they weave in and out of the novel, with an entertaining and hilarious scene at Thanksgiving, and as we learn more about her brother Alfred, who is now her business partner.  Change and self-discovery are prevalent for Valentine as she learns not only about her family, her love, but also herself.  A well-developed story leaves an ending without lose ends, but with anticipation for what happens next.

Subject Headings: Family relationships, Family businesses, Italian Americans, Weddings, Long-distance romance, Grandmothers, Sibling rivalry, Businesswomen, Dating, Mentors, Female friendship, Relationships, Transformations, Past loves, Power struggles, Brothers and sisters, Family secrets, Scandal, Self-discovery; New York, Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.), Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, Argentina; 2000s, 21st century; Fiction Romance, Contemporary, Domestic Saga Family; Italian American, Grandmother, Newlywed Italian; Businesswoman, Artist, Businessman, Financier

Appeal: romantic, love story, career woman, friendships, custom shoemakers, lush, passionate professional, Italian-Americans, family relationships, change, acceptance, self-discovery, New York City, Greenwich Village, Buenos Aires, fast paced, humorous, emotionally charged, sophisticated, sensual, family businesses, stylish, glamorous, down-to-earth characters, series novel, bestselling author

3 terms that best describe this book: family relationships, Italian-American experiences, passionate female businesswoman

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The World in a City: traveling the globe through the neighborhoods of the new New York by Joseph Berger is a nonfiction books for people who want to learn more about New York City, it’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods and constant change in people, culture, cuisine and sights.

Marcella Amarcord Remembers: the story of a woman who started out to teach science in a small town in Italy, but ended up teaching America how to cook Italian by Marcella Hazan traces the life story of the best-selling cookbook author from her childhood in a quiet Adriatic Sea fishing town and her family’s struggles through World War II to her marriage and her work as a cooking instructor.

Coffee With Nonna: The Best Stories of My Catholic Grandmother by Vincent M. Iezzi; The author complies stories his nonna shared with him while he was a child during World War II in his Philadelphia neighborhood.  Other readers describe this as heartwarming and precious.  Found this book using Amazon “What other customers bought.”

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Fair Play by Deirdre Martin is the second in the New York Blades series.  Each novel is about a different woman hired to “take charge” of a problem surrounding one of the New York Blades’ players.  This novel is about PR maven Theresa Falconetti, hired by Michael Dante, the winger for the New York Blades, to publicize his family’s restaurant.  A romance ensues between Michael and Theresa, yet Theresa is torn as she tries to stick to her ‘no hockey players’ rule.

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge is the story of Mira Serafino, a woman who recently discovered her husband was having an affair.  She decides to change her life, moves to Seattle, and takes a new job, all while keeping the news about her marriage from her large Italian family.

Love and Meatballs by Susan Volland is the story of thirty-something Jo Cerbone who is struggling to keep her Italian-American family’s restaurant running.  She finds herself in the midst of a romance between two men, and in the midst of learning more about what she really wants to do with her life.

-Jennifer Peterson

How Starbucks Saved my Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

June 23, 2010


Author:  Michael Gates Gill

Genre: Memoir, Inspirational

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages: 268

Geographical Setting:  New York

Time Period:  present day

Plot Summary: Michael Gates Gill was born into a privileged life. A very privileged life. His family had money, just like everyone else they knew or cared about. Michael went to the best schools, graduated from Yale. In his late fifties he had everything: high-powered career as a marking executive, six-figure salary, big house in a great neighborhood, a wife and four loving children. But it didn’t last. He lost professional footing as his firm became gradually younger, fresher, and more innovative. Eventually he lost his job, then struggled and failed at employing himself as an independent consultant. Michael sought consolation in an affair, a relationship started ‘on totally false assumptions.’ Eventually his girlfriend became pregnant. He told his wife about their relationship after his son was born. Unsurprisingly, his marriage ended in divorce. Karmatically, his girlfriend looses interest and their relationship is limited to raising little Jonathan. Then Michael is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

While sitting in a Starbucks, mulling over his looses with a latte his dwindling savings can hardly afford, a young African American woman asks Michael if he wants a job. Not realizing a Starbucks was holding a job fair in the café, he was drawn in by the company’s generous health insurance. When Crystal calls Mike (the author discarded his former persona) to offer him a job he immediately accepts is hired as a barista.  Here the real story begins. Mike shares the story of his first year working for Starbucks; the people he works with and learns to respect, serving customers good and bad, and the value of work. Though initially a ‘fish out of water’ Mike learns to truly enjoy and appreciate what outsides can only call his ‘misfortune.’

Subject Headings: Starbucks Coffee Company, New York City, Biography,
Advertising executives, Coffee houses, Brain tumor patients, New York Times bestseller, memoir

Appeal Terms: accessible, leaps of faith, fateful, introspective, humbling, philosophical, life crisis, optimistic, relatable characters, honest, challenges stereotypes, appreciative, free-falling, survival story

Three words that describe this book: accessible, honest, modern-day survival story

Similar Works:


The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Newspaper columnist Corrigan was a happily married mother of two young daughters when she discovered a cancerous lump in her breast. As Corrigan reports on her cancer treatment—the chemo, the surgery, the radiation—she weaves in the story of her family: larger-than-life father, loving mother and brothers, her husband and daughters. Stories lead up to ‘that middle place’, being someone’s child, but also having children of her own. Similarities: cancer survival, contemplation, relationships, coping, honest, inspiring

Doing nothing: a history of loafers, loungers, slackers and bums in America by Tom Lutz

A cultural history of the American attitude toward work cites the pivotal contributions of the Industrial Revolution in the formation of the modern work ethic, evaluating the current divergence between “worker” and “slacker” stereotypes. Similarities: explores work ethic/ social responsibility and values, enlightening, engaging

It’s Not About the Coffee by Howard Behar

Howard Behar, founding president of Starbucks International and president of Starbucks North America, tells of the strategies he used to establish the business into the success it is today. Behar shares the soft skills that helped to construct the company from a regional outlet to a corporation with international reach. Similarities: straightforward, heartfelt, refreshing, success story.


Diary of a Yuppie by Louis Auchincloss

Driven by an insatiable hunger for power, Bob Service, a thirty-two year-old New York lawyer whose morals are tempered by expediency, tramples his associates and cripples his marriage. When Service meets the female version of himself–a “hard-boiled yuppette” he undergoes a “conversion.” Literature, once Service’s passion, seems to redeem him. Similarities: cautionary tale, explores the ethics of in business, love, and friendship, reforming shallow characters

Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos

When elderly Margaret Hughes discovers that she has a malignant brain tumor, she refuses treatment and decides to take a nice young tenant into her huge, lonely Seattle mansion for company. What she gets is Wanda Schultz, a tough-as-nails stage manager who is secretly seeking the man who left her and prone to inexplicable weeping breakdowns. Wanda, ignorant of Margaret’s illness, is intrigued by the museum-like house and its eccentric owner. Similarities: intergenerational relationships, coping with illness, hopeful outlook

Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss

Found wandering in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Samson Greene, a thirty-six-year-old Columbia University English professor, is discovered to have a brain tumor, but when surgery removes the tumor, leaving him with no recollection of his life after the age of twelve, he finds himself struggling to deal with a life, and a wife, he no longer recognizes. Similarities: surprisingly lighthearted, observant, touching, philosophical

The Strain

February 23, 2010

Author(s): Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Title: The Strain

Genre:  Thriller

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 401

Geographical Setting: New York (current day), Romania and Germany (flashbacks)

Time Period: Current day (2009) and 1940s, during World War II

Series: Book I of The Strain Trilogy

Plot Summary: Ephraim is the head of a special infectious diseases team of the CDC in New York City.  He is suddenly called to duty due to an unknown case that leaves its victims with symptoms that are difficult to explain.  As the virus quickly spreads across New York, the residents of the city begin to act in strange, erratic ways that become too fast to contain and too inexplicable to explain.  Eph must race against time in order to contain the virus and as he further investigates, the story unfolds as he learns that menacing and unknown dark forces may be at hand.

Subject Headings: Vampires, Virus Diseases, New York City, Suspense, Infection, Physicians

Appeal: suspenseful, loss of control, intense, urban, dark forces, admirable characters, good vs. evil, claustrophobic, daunting

3 terms that best describe this book: suspenseful, page-turner and enthralling

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Author: Elie Wiesel

Title: Night (unsure future, unknown journey, Holocaust survivors)

  1. Author:  Denise Grady

Title: Deadly Invaders: Virus Outbreaks from Around the World, from Marburg Fever to Avian Flu (communicable viruses, loss of control, fight to find a cure)

  1. Author: Richard Preston

Title: Panic in Level Four: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science (loss of control, unbelievable true stories, themes of impending doom)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Author: Cherry Adair

Title: Night Fall (themes of impending doom, unknown evil, and courageous main characters)

  1. Author:  Graham Masterton

Title: Death Mask (suspenseful, who-done-it story, mystery murder plot)

  1. Author: Stephen King

Title: Salem’s Lot (vampires, the fight against evil, good-hearted characters)

Name: Jillian

Mercury In Retrograde

November 4, 2009

Author:  Paula Froelich

Title:  Mercury in Retrograde

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  June 2009

Number of Pages:  272

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Present Day

Series (if applicable):  NA

Plot Summary:  Penelope, a reporter, Lena, a socialite magazine editor, and Dana, a high- powered attorney are all having a bad day.  Mercury is in retrograde and it is wreaking havoc on their lives.  Penelope is fired from her job after setting the photo studio on fire and throwing up on her boss.  Lena has been cut off from her wealthy parents and evicted from the apartment they own because she is spending too much.  Dana’s divorce is final and she now finds out that her husband’s new wife is having the baby she so desperately wanted while they were married.  Circumstances help them all become neighbors in a SoHo apartment building and then friends.  Through friends in common they help each other to make it on their own and to find happiness and hopefully love in their lives.

Subject Headings:  Single women, New York City Socialites,  New York City Women Journalists, New York City Women Lawyers, New York City Women Friendship, New York City Life change events, SoHo, New York City, Chick lit

Appeal: Funny, Astrology, New York City, Page-Turner, Multiple Points-of-View, Romance, Fashion, Famous People, High Society, Friendships, Gentle Read, Relationships, Optimistic, Female Protagonists, Happy Ending, Contemporary Setting, Conversational Writing Style, Unusual Format – Horoscopes, Family, Friends, Well Developed Secondary Characters, Upbeat

3 Terms that best describe this book:  Funny, Upbeat, and Contemporary

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?)

3 Non-Fiction Works

New York: The Big City and Its Little Neighborhoods by Naomi Fertitta – More than 20 neighborhoods are covered in detail including history, maps, photos and more.

Rock Your Stars: Your Astrological Guide to Getting it All by Holiday Mathis – Humorously written contemporary advice on how to live your life with the help of astrology.

Mercury Retrograde: Your Survival Guide to Astrology’s Most Precarious Time of Year by Chrissie Blaze – Describes ways to use Mercury in retrograde to your advantage instead of getting caught in its disasters.

3 Fiction Works

Prospect Park West: A Novel by Amy Sohn – The story of four Park Slope, New York married women whose lives are commingled and the neighborhood they live in.

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell – This book describes the lives and careers of three friends in New York City.

Girls’ night out by Roz Bailey – The story of three New York City girls who go on a reality dating show and race to find love and win a million dollars.

Name: Chris S.