Posts Tagged ‘optimistic’

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

November 7, 2012

Author: Anthology, 64 contributing authors

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

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 281

Geographical Setting: N/A

Time Period: Present (some flashbacks to authors’ adolescence).

Plot Summary: What would you write if you could send a letter to your young adult self? This question is explored in The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves as sixty-four LGBT authors, including Michael Cunningham and Amy Bloom, create an anthology of letters written to themselves as teenagers. While each letter is unique and distinctive, the collection as a whole discusses topics such as: exploring self-identity, the sometimes painful process of coming out, and encouragement and hope for bright futures ahead. Some authors write letters that are nostalgic and humorous as they discuss memorable moments from their adolescence, a well-remembered love for Barbara Streisand’s Broadway albums for example. Other letters take on a more serious tone with discussions of bullying or teenage self-loathing. Despite the variety of moods present in this anthology, the collective message found in the text is hopeful and reassuring with promises of happy adulthood in a more tolerant society. In addition to content, the letters are also unique in format. While the majority of entries consist of traditional letters, others are written in free verse or graphic novel form. This anthology of unsent letters makes for an emotional read that is heartwarming at times while tearful at others. Written in a conversational tone, The Letter Q is an honest and endearing read about courage and self-acceptance that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

Subject Headings: Coming out (Sexual orientation), Gay men, Self-acceptance, Social situations, Teenage, Teenagers, Gays-Identity, Adolescence

Three Appeal Terms: Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic

Appeal: Compassionate, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Humorous, Nostalgic, Optimistic, Flashbacks, Issue-Oriented, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Conversational, Multiple Points of View.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help their Teenage Son Come to Terms with his Sexuality by John Schwartz

Written by a New York Times correspondent, Schwartz tells the heartbreaking story of his thirteen-year-old son’s attempt to commit suicide after coming out to friends and family. The near tragedy becomes an uplifting tale as Schwartz recounts his mission to make his teenage son feel safe and supported. Fans of The Letter Q who are looking for additional true coming out stories that are both positive and encouraging may also enjoy this title.

Queer: the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge

Structured as a guidebook for young adults, Queer offers advice on a wide range of topics including dating, sex, and homophobia. For young adults who appreciated the guidance and suggestions provided in The Letter QQueer may be helpful additional reading for teens who are seeking more resources on coming out.

When I Knew (2005)

A collection of anecdotes from eighty contributing writers, When I Knew authors describe the moment they realized they were gay and the coming out process that followed. When I Knew may appeal to Q fans who are looking for additional anthologies of coming out stories that are both inspiring and humorous.

Fiction Read-Alikes:

My most excellent year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is narrated by three young adults from Boston who share their experiences of love and friendship through letters, emails, and instant messages. This trio of unique characters consists of  T.C., who is baseball-obsessed and has made a hobby of writing letters to his deceased mother; Alejandra, whose father is an ambassador to Mexico and holds Jacqueline Kennedy as her role model; and Augie, a musical theater fanatic who shares his own coming out story. Young adult readers who enjoyed the multiple voices included in The Letter Q may appreciate this humorous coming-of-age/coming out story told through three narrators. My Most Excellent Year’s format of letters, emails, and texts might also appeal to Q fans.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
 by Emily Franklin

High school senior Lucas is thoroughly shocked when his lifelong best friend, Tessa, turns down his prom invitation and also comes out to him as a lesbian. Wanting to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the dance, Tessa is faced with Lucas’ betrayal of spreading her secret and the town’s backlash towards her determination to attend the prom.  readers who are looking for another inspiring yet humorous coming out story told through multiple perspectives might appreciate this title.

Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Sixteen-year-old Steven embarks on a mission to prove to himself that, despite his doubts, he is straight. His adventures include dating a slue of his female classmates, socializing with the jocks, and a comical attempt to purchase a Playboy. When Steven finally admits to himself that he is gay, he comes out to his best friend who responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and urges him to share the good news with everyone he knows. Similar to The Letter Q, Absolutely, Positively Not is endearing, hopeful, and hilarious. Q fans who are seeking additional believable, light-hearted coming out stories might enjoy this book.

Annotation by: Elizabeth Hopkins

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

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

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

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

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

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Ally C.

The Next Always

April 4, 2012

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Boonsboro, Maryland

Time Period: Present

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

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

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

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Ally C.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

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

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

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

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

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

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Meghan M.

River of Doubt

November 9, 2011

Author: Candice Millard (Narrated by Paul Michael)

Title: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 353 pages (10 audio discs)

Geographical Setting: Amazon River Basin

Time Period: 1912-1914

Plot Summary:   After a defeat in his run for a third Presidential term, Theodore Roosevelt decides to explore an uncharted river in the Amazon river basin with his son Kermit, and a cast of American participants, some who ultimately end up risking the success of the expedition.  The Brazilian government assigns an experienced explorer, Candido Rondon, to navigate and accompany the American group. This expedition faces a myriad of challenges from the Amazon rainforest itself, as well as indigenous Brazilian Indian tribes, lack of proper boats, food and medicine.  The narrator of the audio version does a good job of bringing the different characters to life, including the Spanish/Portugese accents and moving us through the details of this very complex story.

Subject Headings: Natural history; Presidents; Rain forests; Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919; Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition (1913-1914)

Appeal: adventurous, atmospheric, exotic, accessible, informative, engaging, suspenseful, graphic, vivid, moving, optimistic, academic, steady pacing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: detailed setting, well-researched, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

This book chronicles the search for the lost adventurer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared on an expedition in the Amazon basin in search of the fabled Lost City of Z.  This is a richly detailed book that illustrates the dangers of the Amazon and is partially based on diaries, like the River of Doubt. This is also a New York Times Notable book like the River of Doubt.

When Trumpets Call by Patricia O’Toole.

This book chronicles the complete ten years after Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, including his adventures on the River of Doubt and the African safari he went on with his son Kermit prior to his Amazon expedition. This book illustrates that Teddy Roosevelt does not recede in the background after his Presidential term is over and not only is an adventurer and a naturalist, but still remains active in political life.

Fordlania by Greg Grandin

The author, a NYU professor of Latin American History, tells the true yet unbelievable story of Henry Ford in his attempts to transform part of Brazil’s Amazon River basin into small-town America in order to produce rubber for car tires. Until now, the colossal failure of this project had not been well documented, and this Top 10 Business Book of 2009 shows what happens when a capitalist visionary ignores cultures, politics and nature.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This compelling, richly detailed and atmospheric novel set in the Amazon basin, and specifically near  Manaus ( the end of Roosevelt’s expedition), is character centered with interesting characters, similar pacing as the River of Doubt  and a sense of unease and danger lurking around every page.

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes-Peebles

This work of historical fiction in 1920’s and 1930’s Brazil, follows two impoverished sisters, who share excellent sewing skills, into their adult lives with the backdrop of the populist revolt of 1930.  This sweeping novel describes the political instability that affected Brazil at this time, while the attention to detail provides a vivid sense of place and a good characterization of the sisters’ relationship.

The Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage

This debut novel follows a Brazilian Chief Inspector Mario Silva as he attempts to solve the murder of a bishop while navigating the politically charged local battle between wealthy Brazilian landowners and the landless poor. The author, who lived in Brazil for many years, builds a fascinating character in Mario Silva, vividly evokes a contemporary sense of Brazil’s social and political problems and sets the stage for two additional Mario Silva novels.

Name:Cheryl

Legends of Shannara: Bearers of the Black Staff

September 28, 2011

Author: Terry Brooks

Title: Bearers of the Black Staff

Genre: Fantasy fiction

Publication Date: August 24, 2010

Number of Pages: 353 pages (audio – 12 CDs)

Geographical Setting: A mythical, protected valley called Shannara.

Time Period: Post Apocalyptic

Series: Legends of Shannara

Plot Summary: In a valley protected by magical mists and a loner, Sider Ament, two young trackers find that demons have breached their valley and killed innocent trackers.  Sider is the only surviving member of the Knights of the Word and the Bearer of the Black staff.  He and the trackers seek to warn the inhabitants of the valley- humans, elves, lizards and spiders.  In doing so, they put themselves in danger from those who believe that the failure of the mists means the second coming of their God.  This forces them to seek help from other species in order to protect the impending demon invasion. They join with an Elven cast of characters and other humans to defend their valley. In their quest they encounter duplicitous royalty, demons, and the religious, who are on their own quest for power.  Sider Ament’s personal quest is to find a worthy successor to bear the black staff. The audio book is narrated by Phil Gigante, who is known for his ability to do characterizations. Listening to the audio version brings all of these characters to life.

Subject Headings: Refugees; Survival; Magic; Trolls; Knights and Knighthood; Magic sticks; Good and evil; Shannara (Imaginary place)
Appeal: reflective, fast-paced, engrossing, compelling, dangerous, foreboding, heartwarming, optimistic, flawed but memorable characters, well-developed, multiple plot lines, mystical, world building, nostalgic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heroic, richly detailed, strong sense of place.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Tolkien & C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez. A commentary on the friendship and the inspiration for each authors’ fantasy works, including their spiritual beliefs.

2) Tales from a Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien.  A collection of short fantasy novellas and poetry with illustrations.

3) The Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beings by Brenda Rosen. Illustrations and history of the origins of mythical creatures and their basis in reality.

 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Dragons of Autumn Twilight (DragonLance saga) by Margaret Weis. A world-building and fast-paced work including themes of good and evil with magic wielding creatures and humans.

2) Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Fantasies) by Juliet Marillier.  These stories have young heroes/heroines that are noble, but sometimes behave badly.  They learn from their experiences and sometimes are fighting religious battles.

3) The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan. This series is chosen for the story of unlikely heroes banding together with other species to go on a dangerous quest in order to defeat evil.

Name:Cheryl R.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

August 17, 2011

Title:  The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Author: Mitch Albom

Genre: Inspirational, Fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 198

Geographical Setting: Heaven, Amusement Park

Time Period: Current day

Format:  Hardcover

Plot Summary:  This is the story of Eddie. He is a maintenance man at the Ruby Point Amusement Park and he is about to die. We learn of Eddie’s death and are told about the life he had and the people who were in it. Along the way, we start to understand that Eddie feels his life was lacking and not meaningful. The last section of the story takes place in Heaven where Eddie meets five people who he touched during his life. He then learns of how important he was throughout his life even if it wasn’t readily apparent to him. This short parable like story will have you feeling uplifted and that you have a purpose by the end.

Subject Headings:  Spirituality, Death, Inspirational

Appeal:  Easy, Heartwarming, Hopeful, Optimistic, Thoughtful, Introspective, Inspiring, Gentle, Timeless, Accessible, Breezy, Simple

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: Hopeful, Heartwarming, Inspiring

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Voices of Many Waters: Irrefutable Evidence of Life After Death by Alan Youngblood-A factual study of the possibility of a life after death. This is a readable book where you can explore this topic further.

Theme Park Design: Behind the Scenes With an Engineer by Steve Alcorn-Get  a basic knowledge of theme parks and the maintenance issues that Eddie dealt with during his life.

Learning to Love Yourself: Finding Your Self-Worth by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruise-a place to gain insight into how people get over feeling like Eddie did all his life. Start now before you are in Heaven.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  Life’s Golden Ticket: An Inspirational Story by Brendon Burchard-Another inspirational tale that is set in an amusement park. An uplifting story that will appeal to readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Name:  Mary Othic

To Tame A Land

July 19, 2011

 

Author:  Louis L’Amour                                                                                                                  

Title:  To Tame A Land                                                                     

Publication Date: 1955                                                                     

Pages:  269

Genre:  Western

Geographical Setting:  Western United States

Time Period: Mid 1800’s

Subject Headings:  Western stories

Appeal:  Fast-paced, suspenseful, optimistic, well-developed characters, strong secondary characters, action-oriented, linear, detailed, romance, descriptive, frank, resolved ending

Plot Summary:   Orphaned twelve-year-old Tyler learns how to survive on his own when he is abandoned on the westward trail in the middle of Indian country.  He learns to live off the land and develops a reputation for his quick, sharp shooting skills.  Tyler’s wanderings introduce him to an array of dramatic characters and situations.  This fast-paced story is filled with vivid descriptions of western landscape and is told with a refreshing frank style.

Three terms that best describe this book:  Fast-paced, action-oriented, descriptive

Similar authors and fiction works:

Gunman’s Goal by Max Brand

A crime story about a western adventurer who helps a beautiful girl find her missing father.  Fast-paced, romantic, descriptive

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Saga of engrossing characters on a cattle run. 

Descriptive, romantic, leisurely-paced.

Rangers of the Lone Star by Zane Grey

An ex-outlaw deputy U.S. marshal puts a stop to cattle rustling and deals with hostile rivals.

Fast-paced, insightful characters, contemplative

Similar authors and non-fiction works:

Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt

Rodeo’s, blizzards, family ties and isolation are part of life growing up on Northern Montana. 

Informative, intimate, authentic

Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West by Timothy Egan

New York Times correspondent goes on an eleven state journey in order to gain insight into the American west.

Compelling, descriptive, humorous,

This House of Sky by Ivan Doig

Memoir of a cowboy’s life growing up in Montana.

Unhurried, eccentric, engaging

Name:  Debbie Jancik

Read July 19, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leap Years

April 14, 2011

Author: Ian Bennett

Title: Leap Years

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: April 1, 2005

Number of Pages: 212 pages

Geographical Setting: U.S.A.

Time Period: Modern Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

Jake is a lonely high school Freshman who has trouble socializing with others in the school.  He slowly begins to feel that he is invisible and starts losing a grasp on reality.  Right at this time, he meets an imaginary friend, a frog named Wilbur, who helps him navigate the difficulties of high school.  Jake joins the basketball team and many other clubs in order to meet people and impress his crush, Sarah.  As Jake goes through the different grades, he and Wilbur play various pranks on the school.  Eventually, they invent a character called Super Pencil who rallies the other students into all sorts of harmless, but rebellious pranks against the school.  Jake becomes so popular with Wilbur’s help that he gets voted as class president, but it is at this point that Jake begins to wonder if there were more important things to life than being popular in high school.

Subject Headings: Emotions in teenage boys, frogs, high school students, coming-of-age, self-discovery, imaginary playmates, high school romance, basketball teams, revenge

Appeal terms: Candid, humorous, emotionally charged, introspective, witty, sarcastic, imaginative, optimistic, quirky, character-driven, open-ended, chatty, colloquial, rebellious

3 terms that best describe this book: Imaginative, optimistic, introspective

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This is a graphic novel memoir about the life of Craig, who grew up in a conservative Christian home, and the difficult time he was experiencing in high school until he met Raina, a popular girl who helps him discover who he is.

True Story, Swear To God: 100 Stories by Tom Beland

This graphic novel talks about the life of Beland and his journey growing up, where everything comes together when he finds the love of his life and his career takes off.  Jake experience a similar experience meeting Wilbur and fulfilling his high school dreams.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This is a story about Bechdel’s life growing up in a funeral home and her turbulent relationship with her father, which is similar to Jake’s relationship with the authority figures in his life.  Eventually, she comes out as a lesbian, but her father passes away in a suicide attempt.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This is a story about an imaginative young girl who like Jake has trouble socializing, but somehow ends up on a roadtrip with three of her classmates and is forced to interact.  This is drawn by the same artist and author of the Scott Pilgrim series.

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Jane is forced to move to a new city when her parents relocate, and she ends up forming a gang with other girls named Jane when she finds herself bored and lonely in the new town.  The gang plays various pranks on the town, just like Wilbur and Jake did to their school.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

This is a story of two best friends named Enid and Rebecca who are navigating the time in between high school and college.  Like Wilbur and Jake, they go through a lot together, growing up and exploring romantic relationships, but also recognizing that their friendship is changing.

Name: Lian Sze

Anansi Boys: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

April 13, 2011

Author: Neil Gaiman

Performed by: Lenny Henry

Title: Anansi Boys: A Novel (unabridged audiobook)

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 8 CD discs unabridged 10 hours (book version 336 pages)

Geographical Setting: London; Florida; St. Andrews—a Caribbean island; and the abode of ancient gods

Time Period: Contemporary and the ‘beginning of the world’

Plot Summary: “Fat Charlie” has been living a somewhat pathetic and routine life in London. All of that changes after his father’s death leads to the revelation that Charlie is the descendant and relative of trickster gods. Just as Charlie thought he had passed into adulthood and escaped all ties to his humiliating childhood and obnoxious father, he begins a relationship with Spider—the brother he had never known. Although Spider’s pranks bring excitement and new people into Charlie’s sheltered life, they cost Charlie his job, his fiancée, his dignity, and a good deal of his sanity. At his wit’s end, Charlie naively seeks assistance to get rid of his brother and he makes an allegiance with Bird Woman whose dark realm is closer to that of his father’s world. Meanwhile, Charlie’s sociopath former boss has maliciously implicated Charlie in an embezzlement and murder scheme that leads to grave danger for him and all of his loved ones. Charlie, now all the wiser and braver, is compelled to save his mischievous, but non-malevolent brother, and to build his life anew.

Subject Headings: Anansi (Legendary Character), Fathers and Sons, Brothers, Adventure Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Trickster God, West African Trickster God, Spider-God, Mythology, Magic, Heroes

Appeal: likeable flawed characters, compelling secondary characters, gentle humor, playful, dialect-rich, plot builds in intensity, magical, menacing atmosphere, optimistic, fast paced dialogue, detailed, conclusive

3 terms that best describe this audiobook: a captivating performance of multiple dialects and voices of the young and old; memorable characters; and blurred line between heroes/anti-heroes and gods/mortals. Captivating, memorable, magical

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Trickster: Native American Tales A Graphic Novel edited by Matt Dembicki (a graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales that almost parallel that of the West African spider-trickster god)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark (another fantasy novel, albeit with historical accounts, that is set in London, questions human sanity, is humorous, and is character driven)

Dark Matter: Reading the Bones edited by Sheree R. Thomas (a short stories collection of sci-fi, folktales, and fantasy written by, or retold by, popular African American authors)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (a cross-cultural scholarly, yet popular look at heroes, at the recycling of ancient heroes, and at how humans express reality through myths)

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (a Grammy Award winning audiobook in which the author performs the multiple voices of his black Kenyon and white American relatives both young and old)

Read on Fantasy Fiction by Neil Hollands (a helpful, fun book for Neil Gaiman and fantasy fans to find, or to assist others with, their next great read)

–Jeanne Jesernik