Posts Tagged ‘offbeat’

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

November 7, 2012

Author:  Jenny Lawson

Title:  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  (A Mostly True Memoir)

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Autobiography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  318

Geographical Setting:  Various locations in Texas, including Houston and several small towns in West Texas.

Time Period:  2000’s, with flashbacks to 1970’s-80’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

In Jenny Lawson’s self-proclaimed “mostly true memoir” she shares humorous anecdotes and reflections about her childhood and adolescence, marriage and motherhood, foibles and friendships, and attempts to rid her new home from the threat of potential zombie attacks.  With chapter headings like “Stanley, the Magical Talking Squirrel,” “My Vagina is Fine, Thanks for Asking,” “And Then I Got Stabbed in the Face by a Serial Killer,” you realize from the start that this book is probably not going to follow the conventions of many memoirs- and you wouldn’t want it to.

The author, creator of the popular online blog, “The Bloggess,” engages and entertains readers with stories that are mostly funny and offbeat (i.e. an overzealous taxidermist father), though she does share some painful episodes (a miscarriage, an anxiety disorder, rheumatoid arthritis) as well.  In both everyday experiences and big-life moments, Jenny Lawson seems to relish finding and sharing the humor of an awkward and/or absurd situation- overall, it makes for a fun, fast read that you were glad to share in, though slightly thankful you didn’t have to go through first-hand.

Subject Headings:  Personal narratives, Childhood memories, Growing up, Awkward high school experiences, Drug use, Family relationships, Marriage, Motherhood, Friendships, Pets, New homes, Human resource departments, Anxiety disorder, Misadventures, Taxidermy, Texas, Rural towns, Blogs.

Appeal:  Humorous, Offbeat, Sarcastic, Conversational, Candid, Engaging, Witty, Bawdy, Contemporary, Colorful characters, Family relationships, Growing up in rural towns, Photographs.

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Humorous, Offbeat, Engaging.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Migrom

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson shares anecdotes of living with a father who is a taxidermist.  Readers interested in finding out more about taxidermy may enjoy this title, in which the author explores the history, community, and craft/art of taxidermy.

2.  I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl by Laurie Notaro.

Readers who enjoyed the offbeat humor of Jenny Lawson’s book may enjoy reading this collection of funny, quirky stories chronicling the idiosyncrasies of the author’s life in her thirties.

3.  Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho.

Readers inspired to begin a blog of their own after reading Jenny Lawson’s book may find this title to be a helpful resource.  It covers a range of topics about starting and developing a blog, in addition to interviews with current successful bloggers.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks

Max Brooks’ humorous book of survival strategies for dealing with the undead could have come in handy for Jenny Lawson- in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, she searches the property of her new home for supposed graves in order to avoid being unexpectedly accosted by zombies.

2.  If You Were Here: A Novel by Jen Lancaster

In both Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and this story, we follow the funny and frustrating ups and downs of couples as they adapt to life in a new home and married life.

3.  Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud

Readers who enjoyed the wacky humor of Jenny Lawson’s book and her penchant for collecting taxidermies may enjoy reading this title, the first of a series of mysteries starring unlikely sleuth Garth Carson- a New York City taxidermy collector.

Name:  Nicole

Look Me in the Eye

August 13, 2012

Author:  John Elder Robison

Title: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s

Genre:  Nonfiction, Autobiography

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  288

Geographical Setting: Primarily Eastern U.S.; Massachusetts

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  In this darkly humorous and moving autobiography, Augusten Burroughs’s older brother, John Elder Robison, candidly and straightforwardly narrates what his life was like growing up with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, his struggles with adjusting to the world around him, and the relief he felt when he was finally diagnosed at age 40.  Robison also describes his traumatic childhood living with an alcoholic, abusive father and a mentally-unstable mother; his gift for repairing, building, and modifying electronic music equipment; and how he used this gift to escape his parents by joining KISS’s 1978 tour to build special effect guitars for Ace Frehley.  Robison’s life is colorful and full of bizarre developments and quirky, offbeat characters that make for a particularly compelling read.  The author’s clever observations of life are both humorous and insightful, and give readers an authentic portrait of one man’s life with Asperger’s.

Subject Headings:  Asperger’s Syndrome; Asperger’s Syndrome Patients; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Family Relationships

Appeal:  Bittersweet, darkly humorous, disturbing, funny, moving, offbeat, reflective, candid, thoughtful, insightful, quirky characters, authentic, clever, straightforward

3 terms that best describe this book:  Darkly humorous, offbeat, and moving

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

David Finch’s idiosyncratic behaviors are beginning to a take a toll on his five-year marriage when he is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  Relieved to find reason behind his idiosyncrasies, Finch begins his quest to find ways to manage his Aspergian behaviors, improve his social skills, and save his marriage.  Like John Elder Robison, Finch is a high-functioning Asperger syndrome patient who was unaware of his diagnosis until adulthood.  This title is suggested to readers looking for a heartwarming and funny book chronicling a person’s efforts to “overcome” his diagnosis.

2)  I Am Intelligent: From Heartbreak to Healing – A Mother and Daughter’s Journey through Autism by Peyton and Diane Goddard

Peyton Goddard, a sufferer of severe autism to the extent of being unable to speak or control her own body, and her mother, Diane, recount her history of misdiagnoses, marginalization, neglect, mistreatment, and exclusion from normal society and education.  Later in her life, Peyton was properly diagnosed and given the ability to communicate her story through computer technology.  Suggested to readers who want to read a deeply moving memoir about someone with a much more severe autistic spectrum disorder than Robison’s.

3)  The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood

An accessible, authoritative, and comprehensive book on aspects of Asperger’s syndrome, including its causes, how it is diagnosed, the social and behavioral challenges that Asperger’s syndrome patients encounter, and issues regarding stigmatization and bullying.  Suggested to those looking for a more scientific and clinical book about Asperger’s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher Boone, an autistic 15-year-old mathematical savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, finds his neighbor’s poodle impaled on a garden fork.  Determined to find the murderer, Christopher must learn to overcome his autistic behaviors in order to solve this mystery.  This title is suggested to readers who enjoy mysteries and are interested in individuals or characters with autistic spectrum disorders.

2)  The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, a middle-aged man detached from the world by his neuroses, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and social anxieties, becomes involved in the life of his social worker, Clarissa, and her son, Teddy, and most learn to confront his idiosyncrasies in order to help her escape her abusive ex-husband.  Daniel’s character, while not necessarily described as autistic, exhibits obsessive-compulsive characteristics frequently associated with sufferers of autistic spectrum disorders.  Readers of Look Me in the Eye looking for a similarly witty and touching tale may want to check out this book.

3)  With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Vol. 1 by Keiko Tobe

The first entry in a multi-volume manga series about Sachiko Azuma’s struggles with raising her autistic son, Hikaru, this volume introduces the characters and follows Hikaru from birth through early elementary school.  This series is a poignant and moving story that explores the realities of being a parent of an autistic child.  The series is suggested to those who enjoyed Look Me in the Eye but want to read about children with autistic spectrum disorders and are open to graphic-novel format.

Name:  Zach Musil

Swamplandia!

August 8, 2012

Author:  Karen Russell

Title:  Swamplandia!

Genre:  Literary Fiction/Best sellers

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  Florida Everglades

Time Period:  late 20th century (1980’s)

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Ava loves the alligator-wrestling life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades.  When her mom—the theme park’s main attraction– dies, the family’s way of life is threatened.  The father goes to the mainland on a business venture; her sister falls in love with a ghost and disappears; and her big brother, Kiwi, gets a job at a rival park called The World of Darkness.  Ava sets out with the eccentric bird-man on a mission through the magical swamps to save her sister, but then she has to save herself.

Subject Headings:  Girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Amusement parks-fiction; Alligators-fiction; Everglades (Florida)-fiction.

Appeal: offbeat, witty, mystical, lyrical, quirky characters, vivid, imaginative, detailed setting, strong sense of place, compassionate, uneasy, changing points of view (two).

3 terms that best describe this book:  imaginative, lyrical, strong sense of place.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Florida Everglades by Connie M. Toops

History of the Florida Everglades, which is where Swamplandia takes place.

Crocodiles and Alligators of the World by David Alderton

Information on origins, evolution and distribution, courtship, reproduction, and many individual species paint a thorough portrait, with maps of their habitats.  References and pictures.  Besides wrestling them, Ava has a pet alligator baby.

The Enduring Seminoles:  From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism by Patsy West

Seminole Indians (mentioned in Swamplandia) and economic culture; Florida history, culture and tourism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

A young postal worker in a small Indian town, Sampath, climbs into a guava tree and becomes unintentionally famous as a holy man, setting off a series of events that spin increasingly out of control.  Humorous, offbeat and strong sense of place.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Similar to Swamplandia, because the teen girl is surviving without help of adults, there are descriptions of nature, and a similar writing style.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A zookeeper’s son, Pi Patel, sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.  It’s a journey with animals and literary.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

 

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames

August 8, 2012

Author:  Jonathan Ames

Illustrator:  Dean Haspiel

Title:  The Alcoholic

Genre:  Graphic Novel

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  136

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Famous mystery writer Jonathan A. wakes from a drunken stupor to find himself in a cluttered station wagon next to an old dwarf woman intent on making love to him.  Trying to remember how he got here, he reflects back to his adolescence when he first discovered alcohol and made a pact with his best friend Sal to get drunk every weekend throughout high school, thus beginning his lifelong self-destructive relationship with alcohol.  He moves to New York City after his parents die in a car wreck and begins working as a taxi driver, where he meets a drug-dealer who introduces him to cocaine.  After waking up in a garbage can, he decides to check himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.  Unfortunately, after leaving, his life continues to fill with tragedy: a girl he falls in love with abandons him yet continues to string him along, he learns that his best friend died of AIDS, his Aunt gets breast cancer, and he watches the World Trade Center burn down on September 11 from the roof of his apartment building.  Jonathan Ames’s The Alcoholic is a bleak, semiautobiographical tale of one man’s desperate and constant battle to overcome alcoholism.  Featuring flawed and lifelike characters with whom readers can sympathize, The Alcoholic is an emotionally-charged and sobering look at the horrors of alcoholism.  The illustrations are evocative, realistic, well-drawn, and superbly complement the narrative’s tone.

Subject Headings:  Alcoholics; Alcoholism; Addiction; Self-Destructive Behavior; Novelists

Appeal:  Compelling, unhurried, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, well-drawn characters, lifelike characters, character-driven, authentic, open-ended, candid, honest, gritty, engaging, self-deprecating, descriptive, darkly humorous, melancholy, moving, dramatic, melancholy, sobering, poignant, emotionally-charged, offbeat, reflective

3 terms that best describe this book:  Candid, melancholy, and sobering

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

In this moving and somewhat disturbing memoir, twenty-four-year-old Koren Zailckas candidly talks about her experience with alcoholism (which began when she was only 14), half-remembered drunken sexual encounters, rape, and alcohol poisoning. She gives an intimate look into the largely overlooked issue of binge drinking among teen girls and young women.  This book is suggested to those who want to read true stories about underage drinking and early alcoholism.

2)  Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs, in the witty and offbeat writing style he is known for, recounts his stay in an alcohol rehabilitation facility for gay men.  But when he leaves, his recovery is challenged when he falls in love with a cocaine addict and his best friend dies of AIDS.  Simultaneously moving and humorous, Dry is suggested to readers who want a closer look inside a rehabilitation facility and want to read how someone else dealt with losing a friend to AIDS.

3)  Stitches by David Small

Written in graphic novel format, Stitches is a poignant, grim, and deeply haunting memoir about the author’s childhood and adolescence among an emotionally unavailable family.  Young David ends up getting throat cancer from his radiologist father, who subjected him to repeated x-rays, and looses his ability to speak after surgery.  Distant, mute, and alone, David turns to drawing as an escape.  Although this suggestion is not about alcoholism or addiction, readers looking for a similarly powerful graphic novel could not go wrong with Stitches.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

A fictional version of Bret Easton Ellis attempts to change his drug-addled, binge-drinking lifestyle by marrying movie star Jayne Dennis, moving to the suburbs, and becoming a father.  Everything seems well for a while, but when he begins writing a pornographic shock novel his life goes from mundane and peaceful to bizarre and horrific.  He relapses back into alcohol and drug abuse, his house becomes possessed by an insidious spirit, someone begins copying the serial killings in American Psycho, and his neighborhood suffers an increase in child abductions.  Like The Alcoholic, this novel contains similar semiautobiographical elements and features a drug-abusing, flawed character as a protagonist.  Suggested to readers looking for something a bit more wild and offbeat than The Alcoholic.

2)  Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British ex-consul, escapes to Quahnahuac, Mexico on November 2, 1938—The Day of the Dead—in order to cut himself off from his loved ones and to drink himself to death.  His ex-wife, Yvonne, and his stepbrother, Hugh, travel to the small Mexican town in an attempt to save him, but to no avail.  Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano is renowned for its vivid and sympathetic portrayal of the horrors of alcoholism.  Like The Alcoholic, this semiautobiographical novel provides an unflinching look at alcoholism.

3)  Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s alter ego, is a derelict and a drunkard who aimlessly travels throughout America looking for work in dead-end occupations, loose and easy women, and, of course, his next drink.  This bawdy semiautobiographical novel recounts Henry’s experiences in gritty, candid details.  Jonathan Ames, author of The Alcoholic, has mentioned Bukowski as an important influence in his own writing.  Further, Factotum similarly tells the story of an alcoholic’s experiences.

Name:  Zach Musil

Girl in Landscape

March 21, 2012

GirlinLandscape.jpg

Author: Lethem, Jonathan

Title: Girl in Landscape

Genre: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 280

Geographical Setting: New York, Planet of the Archbuilders

Time Period: Future

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

In this lyrically written coming of age story, Pella Marsh and her family make the trek from Brooklyn, New York to the Planet of the Archbuilders to start over. The children’s mother dies shortly before leaving for the new planet, leaving Pella, her two brothers, and her father, Clement, to explore this new planet without her. The planet was previously inhabited by Archbuilders who have left behind a few of their own, as well as viruses, and ruins in a desolate landscape.  The remaining Archbuilders are peaceful and unique creatures, fascinated with the English language. There are a few human inhabitants on the planet, all of who take anti-viral drugs to stop the Archbuilder viruses from growing within them.  Pella and her family opt not to take the anti-viral pills, leaving them susceptible to the viruses. Pella finds herself turning into an invisible “household deer”, creatures that cover the landscape of the planet, entering homes, and running wild.  This gives her the ability to spy on others in the new town, sometimes much to her dismay. Pella finds herself both repelled and attracted to the town xenophobic leader, Efram Nugget. This novel explores grief, growing up, sexual awakening, and the morals created in society.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls, Aliens (Non-humanoid), Father and daughter, Homesteaders, Loners, Space colonies

Appeal: set in the future, moving, darkly humorous, offbeat, suspenseful, sympathetic character, engrossing, exotic location, lyrically written, haunting, coming of age story, alien life

3 Appeal terms to best describe book: coming of age story, exotic location, offbeat

3 Fiction read-alikes:

The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway: This book was chosen because it takes place in an unfamiliar landscape and explores our sense of humanity.  This offbeat, darkly humorous story set in the future is a genre-bending fast paced story of friendship.

The Searchers by Alan LeMay: Girl in Landscape is often compared the classic western film, The Searchers, adapted from this novel.  In many ways, Girl in Landscape can be considered a western set in the future.  The Searchers deals with frontier life, xenophobia, and relationships between siblings.

Jumper by Steven Gould: Much like Pella, the main character of this novel, Davy, is given special abilities.  He is able to teleport himself away from his troubled life at any time.  This coming of age story combines science fiction with reality as it explore ethical dilemmas.

3 Non-fiction read-alikes:

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: This book was chosen because it is a coming of age story full of interesting and unique characters.  Like Pella, Augusten grew up in a very unconventional manner without rules or much parental guidance through their teenage years.

First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth by Marc Kaufman: This book discusses the scientific reasoning behind the belief that there is extraterrestrial life out there.  The book is not too technical, making it accessible for readers not familiar with scientific terminology and concepts.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: This witty, character-driven memoir discusses dealing with the loss of parents at an earlier age.  Dave is also responsible for his brother after the death of his parents, much in the way Pella takes on responsibilities with her brothers after the loss of her mother.

Dearly Devoted Dexter

October 12, 2011

Author: Jeffrey P. Lindsay (narrator Nick Landrum)

Title: Dearly Devoted Dexter

Genre: Psychological suspense fiction

Publication Date: July, 2005

Number of Pages: 292 (8 audio CDs)

Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Dexter #2

Plot Summary:  Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami-Dade police department, who incidentally doesn’t like blood.   Unknown to his co-workers and his police officer sister, Deb, he is a neat serial killer, who preys on other serial killers.  This series is the story of Dexter, and his serial killer persona, that he affectionately refers to as the “Dark Passenger”.  While working for the police department, he encounters serial killers, hunts them, and disposes of them with his own variety of vigilante justice, while trying to hide his extra-curricular activities from the people in his life. While the Dark Passenger is targeting a pedophile and a photographer, Dexter’s boss is starting to suspect that Dexter is not what he seems.  Meanwhile, a darker serial killer comes to town and exacts disturbing revenge on a list of veterans from an army occupation in El Salvador. Dexter must throw his suspecting boss off his trail and does so by accidentally getting engaged. This little complication gives Dexter more trouble than tackling two serial killers. This audio performance illustrates the quiet, introspective and charming character of Dexter, in juxtaposition with his very dangerous activities.

Subject Headings:  Crime laboratories, Forensic scientists, Morgan, Dexter, Police, Psychopathic criminals, serial murder investigation, Serial murderers, Serial murders, Vigilantes

Appeal:  gruesome, sarcastic, fast-paced, disturbing, first-person narrative, issue-oriented, contradictory, suspenseful, offbeat, gritty, dialogue-rich, puzzling, charming, introspective.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty, darkly humorous, grisly

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 1)    Mindhunter: inside the FBI’s elite serial crime unit by John Douglas-This collection of interviews of real serial killers reads like a fiction novel and chronicles the development of the Investigative Support Unit of the FBI. These interview get into the minds of the killers to probe for their motivations.

2)    Crime Beat: a decade of covering cops and killers by Michael Connelly-Before he was the author of popular mystery series featuring Detective Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly was a crime beat reporter in Florida and Los Angeles.  This book shows how this work contributed to the details in his novels.  Includes the true crime story of a Florida serial killer, Christopher Wilder.

3)    Without Pity: Ann Rule’s most dangerous killers by Ann Rule-This prolific true crime writer gives equal attention  to the criminal, investigators and prosecutors (Novelist).  This book covers crimes committed by seemingly normal me, like Dexter.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 1) Double Cross by James Patterson-This is a suspenseful, dark and violent series set mostly in Washington D.C. about a police detective, Alex Cross, who is a psychologist and uses his talents to profile the serial killer he is tracking.  The identity of the killer is sometimes surprising.

2) Heartsick by Chelsea Cain-This gruesome and violent series starter was chosen for the treatment of the relationship between a police officer and his abductor-serial killer who let him go. This story gets inside the serial killer’s head as well as the officer’s. The dark local of the Pacific Northwest adds to the darkness of the story.

3) Final Price by Gregory J. Smith-This detective with a sidekick story, similar to Dexter and his sister, is a story of brutal serial murders told in a darkly humorous fashion with the subject of revenge.

Name:Cheryl

An Affair of Sorcerers

August 1, 2011

Author: George Chesbro

 

Title: An Affair of Sorcerers

 

Genre:  Paranormal Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

 

Publication Date: 1979

 

Number of Pages: 265

 

Geographical Setting: New York

 

Time Period: Present day

 

Series (If applicable): The Mongo Mysteries

 

Plot Summary: Three separate cases—a nun trying to save a faith healer accused of a murder he didn’t commit, a university dean with a professor mixed up in something sinister, and a dying little girl with a desperate need for answers—suddenly connect by threads leading straight to New York’s occult underground, and the only person capable of unraveling them is Dr. Robert “Mongo” Frederickson, former circus tumbler and karate black-belt turned criminologist/private investigator. This third entry in the Mongo Mysteries series finds Chesbro’s shrewd, diminutive detective going up against the forces of the occult to save a little girl’s life, and discover the secrets behind her father’s death. Faithful sidekick and brother Garth (himself an NYPD detective) returns to provide muscle for Mongo’s more thoughtful (and agile) investigative style. Some language and situations in Affair reflect the grittiness of urban crime, and readers sensitive to the presence of mild violence and mature themes should make note. The swift pace will keep pages turning all the way up to the stark, dramatic ending.

 

 

Subject Headings: Private investigators; New York (State); Criminologists; Dwarves; Martial arts; Witchcraft; Occult; Supernatural

Appeal: Suspenseful, swiftly-paced, intricately-plotted, offbeat, spooky, gritty, darkly humorous, wry tone, quirky characters, paranormal elements, occult themes, provocative, dark

 

3 terms that best describe this book:  Suspenseful, intricately-plotted, quirky characters

 

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 

The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam and Beyond, by Maury Terry (occult murder, suspenseful, true crime)

 

A Cop’s Guide To Occult Investigations: Understanding Satanism, Santeria, Wicca, and Other Alternative Religions, by Tony M. Kail (occult criminal investigation)

 

Occult Murders (True Crime Series), by John Dunning (true crime accounts of occult murder investigations)

 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

 

The Immortals, by J.T. Ellison (occult murder, gritty, criminal investigation)

 

The Skeptic: An Occult Thriller, by Aaron Niz (occult elements, sinister tone, intricate plot)

 

Tengu: The Mountain Goblin, by John Donohue (martial arts, mystery, suspenseful)

 

-Joe Collier

Sharp Teeth

March 31, 2009

Author: Barlow, Toby

Title: Sharp Teeth

Genre: Horror/ Thriller

Publication Date: January 29, 2008

Number of Pages: 320 p. (hard cover format)

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: The full moon is only aesthetic beauty to this modern-day race of lycanthropes. Sharp Teeth is a horror/ thriller novel that dives into a subculture of battling packs of werewolves that prowl the streets of Los Angeles and can turn at will. The initiated seek converts from the unwanted, the unconcerned, and the down-and-out in an effort to build up their armies as a war looms. Lark is the sophisticated leader and alpha dog of the main pack. He helms this swarm of man-eaters as they shred their way through contract jobs for organized crime and kills for drug dealers’ competition. But now his attention is turned to a faction pack led by his former acolyte. Loner and subtle misanthrope, Anthony Silvo, finds a new job as a dog catcher; he hates it, but has no other prospects. Because the city’s dog pounds are a major means of recruitment for one of the packs, Anthony is unknowingly in the middle of this supernatural world. Part love story, he falls in love with a woman who has recently abandoned Lark’s pack and hides that she too is a shape shifter. Peabody is a detective that has caught the scent of a series of suspicious murders and crimes that inexplicably lead to the pound and some local meth labs. Like Anthony, he finds himself neck-deep in the unimaginable. Characters move across the sun-baked landscape of stucco houses, bridge tournaments, and methadone clinics. They all converge at a final battle in the city dump amidst trash, tires, government agents, blood, flesh, and fur. Written in free verse, Sharp Teeth is a violent and comedic tale that threads together stories of an ancient race that seeks domination in the modern world, love between a boy and a girl, and all the blood, bone, flesh, and marrow that hold it together.

Subject Headings: Los Angeles; dog catchers; dog pounds; meth labs; drug trafficking; werewolves; shape shifters; murder; love; gangs; gang warfare; detective; supernatural; card games; bridge tournaments; recruitment; free verse; multiple points-of-view; strong secondary characters; multiple story lines

Appeal: violent, drugs, sexual, raw, bloody, flowing, episodic, tense, vivid, comedic, urban landscape, fast-paced, strong language, dark humor, cinematic, episodic, offbeat, resolved ending, witty, aggressive

Similar Authors & Works: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause is a story of Vivian, a 16-year old werewolf, who has fallen in love with a boy from school and must balance her two worlds. Women Who Run with the Werewolves: Tales of Blood, Lust and Metamorphosis by Pam Keesey is a collection of tales that revolve around the women-as-werewolves theme. Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and Berni Wrightson is an illustrated novella that tells a tale of a series of grisly murders in Tarker Mills, Maine that span across a calendar year.

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: the Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature by Brian J. Frost is a survey of the cultural impact of the werewolf legend. True Werewolves of History by Donald F. Glut is a collection of 87 different tales of werewolf accounts through history. Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and Related Creatures by Jamie Hall researches tales of shape shifters in multicultural folklore and oral history.

Andy

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

March 25, 2009

Author: Jeff Lindsay
Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 304
Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida
Time Period: 2004
Series: Dexter, Book 1
Plot Summary: Dexter Morgan is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Department. He’s also a sociopathic serial killer with an aversion to blood. However, Dexter is the good guy; he only kills other serial killers, particularly those who target children. When prostitutes start dying in a manner startlingly similar to Dexter’s M.O., he is torn between catching the new killer in town and sitting back and admiring his work.
Subject Headings: Adoptees; Brothers and Sisters; Crime Laboratories; Crime Scene Searches; Father and Son; Florida; Forensic Scientists – Fiction; Men/Women Relations; Miami – Fiction; Murderer-Detectives; Mutilation; Personal Conduct; Police – Miami, Policewomen – Miami; Psychological Fiction; Psychopathic Criminals; Secrets; Serial Murder Investigation; Serial Murderers – Fiction; Serial Murders – Fiction; Suspense – Fiction; Vigilantes – Fiction;
Appeal: accessible, atmospheric, black humor, candid, cinematic, conclusive, contemplative, contemporary, dark, eccentric, edgy, details of forensic investigation, direct, fast-paced, flashbacks, frank, grim, interior, intriguing, introspective, investigative, ironic, light, macabre, morbid, offbeat, plot twists, political, psychological, quirky, resolved ending, sarcastic, series characters, smart, strong language, suspenseful, thought-provoking, unusual, urban, violent, vivid, witty
Red Flags: Strong language, murder, torture, mutilation and dismemberment.
Similar Authors and Works (Fiction):
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Serial murderers, psychopathic criminals, psychological, suspenseful, violence, grim, child abuse victims, interior, action, chilling, smart.
The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey. Serial murderers, psychopathic criminals, black humor, satire, quirky, offbeat.
Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff. Vigilantes, psychological, suspenseful, secret organizations, assassins, fantastical, fast-paced, smart, well-developed, quirky, satirical.
Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction):
In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean. Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the people of Skidmore, Missouri for years. When the law failed the community, several citizens decided to kill him themselves.
Wicked Intentions: the Sheila LaBarre Murders by Kevin Flynn. Sheila LaBarre killed two developmentally disabled young men, claiming she was “an avenging angel sent to kill pedophiles.”
The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation by N.E. Genge. This book contains step-by-step descriptions of the forensic investigation process with real and fictitious examples and plenty of references to television, film, and literature.
Name: Tori