Posts Tagged ‘playful’

Can’t Stand The Heat

October 31, 2012

Can't Stand The Heat Book CoverTitle: Can’t Stand The Heat

Author: Edwards, Louisa

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 359

Geographical Setting: Manhattan, New York

Time Period: Present Day/Contemporary

Series: Recipe For Love

Plot Summary:  Miranda Wake is a fiery, headstrong food critic who wants to write a behind the scenes book on restaurants.  Meanwhile, Chef Adam Temple is about to open his very own Manhattan restaurant The Market, which focuses on seasonal, local food.  Sparks and tempers fly when a drunken Miranda first meets the deliciously hot-tempered Chef at the preview for his upcoming restaurant.  Blame it on the liquid courage through deceptively strong drinks that she ends up accepting a challenge by the infuriating Chef to spend a month observing and working for him in his kitchen.   The challenge becomes even more interesting when Adam discovers that this infamous food critic can’t actually cook.  As Adam starts giving Miranda cooking lessons at his apartment, the tension and sizzling heat between these two comes into full play.  Miranda starts to get material for her book while also trying to fight her feelings for the deliciously handsome Adam.  Meanwhile, she must also deal with her younger brother Jess who returns to live with her but has some big secrets of his own.  It is a steamy romance novel that also works for food lovers with its mouthwatering descriptions.  There are strong secondary characters, especially with the brother Jess’ storyline.  Romance readers can enjoy the passionate, independent romantic leads and their fiery face-offs in the kitchen as well as the bedroom.

Subject Headings: Love Stories, Restaurateurs, Cooks, Cooking, Women Journalists, Men/Women Relations, Interpersonal Attraction, Secrets,

Appeal: fast-paced, steamy, romantic, lighthearted, witty, strong secondary characters, upbeat, plot-driven, resolved ending, playful, multiple points of view, engaging, conversational, passionate

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Lighthearted, Witty, Steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Enjoy this contemporary romance novel that has a similar funny, upbeat tone and features another bet that places the protagonists together.  Minerva Dobbs has just been dumped by David before her sister Diana’s wedding because she wouldn’t sleep with him.  In order to cheer her up, her friends encourage her to approach handsome Calvin Morrissey.  But she overhears Calvin make a $10,000 bet with now ex-boyfriend David that Cal has a month to get Min to sleep with him.  This sets off a game between Cal and Min as the two characters try to play each other for their own gain.  But things get complicated and steamy when the two actually fall for each other.  Another fun and sizzling romance novel with an engaging group of characters.

Delicious by Susan Mallery

In the first book of Mallery’s Buchanan series, enjoy some more food with your romance as you get to know the characters Penny Jackson and Cal Buchanan.  The Buchanan family’s Seattle Waterfront restaurant is drowning and Cal is given the task of rescuing it.  He needs the best chef to help save it and that happens to be his ex-wife Penny.  Penny warily agrees to help as she tries to hide the fact that she is pregnant, but Cal has secrets of his own as well.  The two former lovers begin working together and suddenly the sizzling chemistry between them has returned.  Can they resist their desire for each other, or will they ultimately succumb to its succulent possibilities?

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Blue Bailey drops everything and moves to Colorado to be with her ex-boyfriend Monty.  But when she arrives, she discovers that Monty has moved on with a beautiful blonde and Blue is now stranded without a job or home.  When she runs into stranger Dean Robillard, she is forced to hitch a ride with this infuriating, handsome stranger who turns out to be the Chicago Bears quarterback.  Enjoy the steamy love scenes, great verbal banter and funny tone of this engaging contemporary romance.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cooking from the Farmer’s Market by Jodi Liano, Tasha DeSerio and Jennifer Maiser

Did you love the descriptions of food and farmer’s market shopping in the novel?  Then you will enjoy this Williams-Sonoma cookbook that teaches you the “farm-to-table cooking” method.  Learn tips on how to shop at local farmer’s market while you try out the seasonal recipes provided throughout the book.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

If you want to know more about food critics and the restaurant world, then give this book a try.  Ruth Reichl was a food critic for New York Times in the 1990s before becoming editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine.  She discusses her experiences at restaurants she visited publicly as well as anonymously for reviews.  Savor the descriptions of her meals at restaurants, while also getting to know the beautiful art of restaurants and sample some of her favorite recipes and reviews.  A book that food lovers will certainly eat up.

Out of Sync by Lance Bass

An autobiography by N’SYNC pop group member Lance Bass that chronicles his life in the spotlight.  This book discusses his childhood, time with NSYNC and stint as a Russian cosmonaut.  But it also deals with Lance’s struggles with his homosexuality, which he attempted to hided from the public until he officially came out at the age of 27.  Here is a book that allows you to delve into a life story that deals with issues that were faced by character Jess in Can’t Stand The Heat.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

August 13, 2012

Author: Hadjii

Title: Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir

Genre: African American Biography

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 219 p.

Geographical Setting: Georgia

Time Period: 1980s and 1990s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This fast-paced, character-driven, and humorous autobiography consists of stories from Hadjii’s childhood and teenage years.  Throughout the autobiography, Hadjii covers many interesting situations, like attending a predominantly white school, relating to his traditional parents, going to family parties, visiting church on Sundays, celebrating Christmas, drinking for the first time, taking a test for AIDS, and getting his first job.  In the author’s note, Hadjii admits that some parts of the autobiography are true while others are not although one consistent theme throughout many of the stories is Hadjii’s highlighting of the differences between people who are black and white.  In each chapter, Hadjii’s first-person language and voice are clear.  He is chatty and frank, and he uses this voice to plainly describe and comment on situations and characters from his early years.  Unlike many autobiographies, Hadjii’s story is not tragic or sentimental, but is sarcastic, critical, perceptive, and generally optimistic.  Nonetheless, even though the tone throughout the autobiography is generally light, Hadjii’s sharp observations often present deeper perspectives on issues, especially regarding being a black American growing up in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.

Subject Headings: African-American Families; African-American Young Men; African-Americans; Family and Relationships; The Eighties (20th Century); The Nineties (20th Century); Southern States – Social Life and Customs; Southern States – Race Relations; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing; Memoirs;

Appeal: fast-paced, candid, contemplative, edgy, exuberant, humorous, introspective, playful, thoughtful, upbeat, closely observed, detailed, eccentric, lifelike, recognizable, and vivid primary and secondary characters, character-centered, episodic, family-centered, issue-oriented, strong language, thought-provoking, evocative, small-town, accessible, chatty, colorful, concise, conversational, descriptive, direct, frank, informal

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: frank, funny, episodic

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who are looking for another character-driven reflection about family and relationships in a small town in Georgia.  Although Bailey White recounts these stories as an adult and does not include an African- American perspective as in Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, readers of Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White will appreciate her humorous episodic tales, closely observed and eccentric characters, and conversational dialogue throughout the novel.

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams, like Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, will appeal to readers who desire another autobiography that highlights family, relationships, and race relations in the United States.  Even though the tone and style ofLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams is far more serious and formal thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, both autobiographies focus on how race affected their childhood and teenage years.  Another difference, however, is thatLife on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams takes place in Indiana in the 1960s unlike Hadjii’s upbringing in Georgia in the 1980s and 1990s.

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii because it too is a satiric memoir that humorously focuses on perceptions and stereotypes that people have about African Americans in the United States.  Similar toDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii, Thurston tries to present a more nuanced and detailed impression of race relations and his background of growing up and living in America, and like Hadjii, Thurston deemphasizes the need for every black individual to represent his or her entire race.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about an African American, Betsey Brown, growing up in a middle-class family and dealing with race relations in the United States.  Although the novel is set in Missouri in the late 1950s, Betsey is dealing with many of the same family issues as Hadjii inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried MemoirAlthough Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange is more poetic and atmospheric thanDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii too, it also is episodic and frankly humorous in many sections and contains a compelling story.

Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another character-driven novel about African-American families, friends, and neighbors in a small town.  Although the book is more sentimental in tone and takes place in Oklahoma, as inDon’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii,Life is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper contains multiple stories told by humorous main characters in a witty and lyrical style.

The Thang That Ate My Grandaddy’s Dog by John Calvin Rainey will appeal to readers of Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern Fried Memoir by Hadjii in that it is another humorous novel about a young African-American boy, Johnny Woodside, growing up in a small town in Florida.  Like Hadjii, Johnny tells many stories about his adventures and the friends and family that he relates to on a regular basis as he learns many lessons about life.

Casanova: The Venetian Years

April 18, 2012

Title: Casanova: The Venetian Years

Author: Giacomo Casanova (Author), Benedict Cumberbatch (Reader)

Genre: Nonfiction, Audiobook

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: N/A

Geographical Setting: Italy

Time Period: 1725-1798

Plot Summary: The story of Giacomo Casanova, scholar, adventurer, traveler, soilder and political ally, yet he is more often known for his womanizing  ways, which has made the name “Casanova”  synonymous for a charismatic womanizer. The audiobook version is read by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch whose calm and snarky voice really adds to the humor of the story, as well as being very deep and charismatic, which adds to the more racy scenes. His reading of the story only adds more dimension to the tale, rather than taking anything away.

Subject Headings:

Adventure and Adventures – Biography
Courts and Courtiers – Biography
Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798.
Europe – History – Biography

Appeal: engrossing, leisurely-paced, atmospheric, chatty, passionate, smart, graceful, historical details, intimate, political, cinematic, sexually explicit, romp, emotionally charged, playful,

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Sexually explicit, passionate, cinematic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre-Ambrois-Francois Choderlos de Laclos

Aristocrats and ex-lovers Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring fun to their lives. They challenge each other to seduce others until their lives begin to spin out of control.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists – Neil Strauss

Author Neil Strauss goes undercover into a secret world where he is taught the art of being a pick up artist. This book covers the two year span in which Strauss trained to be a pick up artist, as well as his highs and lows as one and helpful tips on how to seduce the opposite sex.

Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People – Joseph O’Connor

For those who might not be interested in Casanova’s romantic skill but rather his ability to manipulate and coerce people into doing his bidding. An interesting read for anyone who wishes to figure out how to use their understanding of other people in order to get ahead in life and business.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

One Last Look – Susanna Moore

Moving to an English settlement in Calcutta, India in the 1830s, Ladies Eleanor & Harriet expect to hate their time there but instead find a new life full of seduction and exotic cultures and men.

Goddess of the Hunt – Tessa Dar

A steamy historical romance in which our main character, Lucy Waltham attempts to seduce her brother’s best friend while trying to get a different man to marry her. She must choose which man is better suited to her adventurous spirit and passionate hidden life.

Terrorist – John Updike

A seduction of another kind. Eighteen-year-old Ahmad, the son of an Irish-American mother and Egyptian father, finds himself rejecting the capitalist and obsessive society around him. He becomes drawn to the teachings of Islam and along the way finds himself pulled into a terrorist plot.

Name: Courtney Rose

Drinking at the Movies

April 18, 2012

Author: Julia Wertz

Title: Drinking at the Movies

Genre: Adult Graphic Novel, Biography

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 187

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Spring 2007 – New Year’s Eve 2008

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Julia Wertz is a twenty-four year old comic-book artist. Bored with San Francisco she finds herself making a bold decision by moving to New York. Using illustrations and journal-like writing, Drinking at the Movies is chronicle of Julia’s coming-of-age in New York. In an informal and friendly tone, Julia shares the story of moving away from home, trying to hold on to low-paying jobs, and living in four different apartments. She acknowledges and illustrates the more serious parts of her life, like her brother’s drug addiction, family illnesses, and her own drinking problem with humor. Julia’s introspective look at her behavior and her youthful rebellious approach to life and search for identity make this graphic novel an amusing and quick read.

Subject Headings: New York, Cartoonist, Identity, Coming-of-Age,

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, well-drawn, familiar, quirky characters, accessible, simple drawings, unpretentious, contemporary, do-it-yourself, linear story, attention to detail, informal, introspective, character-driven, first-person point of view, playful, artistic.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: humorous, fast-paced, simple drawings.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Life in a Jugular Vein by Ben Snakepit – Ben Snakepit writes autobiographical, humorous comic-strip style graphic novels. He records every day of his life in three frames, and gives each strip the a song of the day. Ben writes and draws about the monotony of his job, going on tour, trying to be a grown-up, punk rock, and drugs and alcohol. His characters are realistic and the language is accessible and simple.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince – Liz Prince writes an autobiographical graphic novel in a comic book style. She uses humor and illustrations to document her own coming-of-age and the relationship she is in.

Zinester’s Guide to NYC by Ayun Halliday – A zinester’s guide to New York City explores the area where Julia lived in and worked in. Similar to Julia’s Do-It-Yourself style, Zinester’s Guide to NYC is the work of over twenty people that have contributed to pages like “Pizza!” to give the reader an in-depth, real-life look at the city.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gingerbread Girl by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin – A coming of age story set in a city, Annah a twenty-somethings female in a big city is depicted in graphic novel format. Her friends, ex-boyfriends, and animals help to narrate her story for her in a witty attempt to find Annah’s identity.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – This humorous fiction graphic novel is a coming of age story about a man in his 20s. His girlfriend left him for New York, and he is left in Berkeley searching for his identity.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser – A linear story told with inserts of illustrated zines and letters, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing features a young man’s coming of age story. Fast-paced and humorous, the main character (Elliot) searches for meaning and his own identity in a punk house in D.C.

name: Jaymie

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.

Match Me if You Can

April 4, 2012

Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title: Match Me if You Can

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 383

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Chicago Stars Series book #6

Plot Summary: Annabelle Granger is a matchmaker in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. She inherited the clunky business from her late grandmother and is determined to make it her career. But before she can bring fame and fortune to Perfect for You, she has to land a client that will turn heads: Heath Champion, sports agent and heart breaker extraordinaire. Heath has decided it is time for himself to land a wife, and while he has never had trouble with the ladies, his search for a very specific woman has him employing the service of two competing matchmakers. Can Annabella’s homespun business compete with the elite Power Matches to find picky Heath the woman of his dreams?

Subject Headings: Single men – fiction, Single women – fiction, Sports agents – fiction, Matchmakers – fiction, Women business owners – fiction, Inheritance and succession – fiction, Dating services – fiction, Business competition – fiction, Dating (Social customs) – fiction, Mate selection – fiction.

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, romantic, strong secondary characters, multiple points of view, engaging, details of Chicago, steamy, resolved ending, quirky characters, playful, light-hearted.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: playful, humorous, quirky characters.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Negotiate Like the Pros: A Top Sports Negotiator’s Lessons for Making Deals, Building Relationships, and Getting What You Want by Kenneth L. Shropshire – Heath has built his empire around his career as a sports agent.

Fodor’s Chicago 2012 by Fodor’s – You read about all the Chicago hotspots Annabelle explored. Now it’s time to see the Windy City for yourself!

Matchmaking From Fun to Profit: A Complete Guide to Turning Your Matchmaking Skills into a New Business by Matchmaking Institute – Annabelle experienced the ups and down of the matchmaking business. Check out this book for more information about her career or how to start your own business.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
A Christmas Wedding by Andrew M. Greeley – Similarly to Match Me if You Can, this book is set in Chicago and is a steamy romance. Chucky and his lifelong rival Rosemarie attend the same college. They decide to get through school by being “just friends.” But when does “just friends” ever work?

See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson – Another humorous romance story set in contemporary times with characters who have a sports background. Jane is a sports reporter with a focus on Seattle’s hockey team and their hot goalie Luc. Luc has a distaste for reporters and is set to give Jane trouble.

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Cruise – A contemporary and funny romance novel. Daisy’s neighbor needs a fiance to score the career promotion he is after, so he enlists Daisy to be his faux bride-to-be. Is there more to their friendship or is it all one big flop?
name: Jaymie

The Committments

March 22, 2012

Author: Roddy Doyle

Title: The Commitments

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 140

Geographical Setting: Dublin, Ireland

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): The Barrytown Trilogy

Plot Summary: When Dublin youths Outspan and Derek decide to start a band, they enlist their friend Jimmy Rabbitte to manage them. Jimmy is that kid everyone knows who has his finger on the pulse of music. “Jimmy had Relax before anyone had heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and he’d started slagging them months before anyone realized that they were no good.” Instead of advising the band (And And! And) to continue doing covers of Depeche Mode songs, or turning them punk or metal or grunge, he goes way back and decides they should be a soul band. He calls it “Dublin Soul”, and surprisingly hits the nail on the head, as it turns out that soul music by African Americans has an appeal for working class Dubliners. The band expands to include Joey “The Lips” Fagan, an aging musician who has played trumpet with most of the bands the young boys are idolizing, Deco Cuffe, a talented singer with a large ego, and cute background singers The Commitmentettes. The band starts small, and then start to build a loyal following. Just when a record deal is about to be signed, the band pulls apart from ego, the saxophone player’s growing interest in jazz, and everyone wanting to get with the cutest Commitmentette. This charming coming of age novel hits that point of time when nothing else matters except the music that hits you hard. Woven into the humor is the fervor the love of music can inspire, along with philosophical musings about what soul music is really about. The Commitments also lays the groundwork for the next two books, which become increasingly personal and bittersweet as the series goes on.

Subject Headings: Working class teenagers — Dublin Ireland. Soul Music. Rock Music. Egotism in teenagers. Ambition in teenagers.

Appeal: funny, strong sense of place, dialect-rich, engaging, character-driven, colorful, urban, quirky, strong secondary characters, breezy, direct, jargon, unaffected, exuberant, impassioned, playful, eccentric, unpretentious.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: dialect-rich, strong sense of place, engaging

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick

Someone who wants to learn more about soul music might enjoy this history of Stax Records, the company that signed many of the rhythm and blues singers that the Commitments are trying to emulate. Guralnick gets deep into not just the music, but the cultural and racial tensions that tore Stax apart in the end.

Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music by Gerri Hirschey

This book is a bit more narrative than “Sweet Soul Music.” Hirschey compiles oral tellings and recollections gleaned from years of working as a music journalist, and writes with a literary flair. It’s the best of both worlds as it’s both a comprehensive history of soul music interwoven with anecdotes about riding around in a limo with James Brown and Al Sharpton.

Me Father Was a Hero and Me Mother Was a Saint by Eamonn Sheridan

Someone interested in the Irish working class should pick up this memoir. Sheridan’s father fought for the IRA during the War of Independence against the British, then fought for the British army during WWII while his mother raised their 11 kids. Sheridan reminisces living in poverty in Dublin until they were forced to emigrate to England.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Hornby’s Rob Thomas could be the grown up version of Jimmy Rabbit, with a giant record collection, a ready knowledge of all things music, memories of his happiest times being a dj, and his own record store. When Rob questions, “Which came first…the music or the misery?” Jimmy would promptly answer, “the music” because the misery hasn’t sunk in quite yet for him.

Glue by Irvine Welsh

Carl is Jimmy’s Scottish soul mate, going to the record store every week to buy something new, and becoming attracted to an unconventionally pretty (plump) girl because she can talk about music with him. Welsh also has a laser-like sense of place for Edinburgh, Scotland just as Doyle does for Dublin, Ireland, and both have come up with their own killer dialect for their regions.

The Exes by Pagan Kennedy

After Hank and Lilly break up (and are finally back on speaking terms), they come up with a great idea for a band comprised entirely of exes. They enlist Shaz, a talented bass player who brings in her one male ex, Walt to play drums. The band starts to creak as they all want different things for this…Hank wants to find that perfect spot where a band is indie-famous without selling out, Lilly wants to be the next Gwen Stefani, Shaz has been in a major band before and just wants to play for fun, and Walt is simply trying to hold it together as he faces down his demons of depression and anxiety. The Exes are from the east coast, but the final chapter takes place in Chicago as the Exes play the Metro, and Kennedy gets the sense of place just right.

Name: Jessica

The Heat Seekers by Zane

November 16, 2011
 

Author: Zane

Title: The Heat Seekers

Genre: Urban Fiction /African American

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Washington, D.C.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In addition to the witty dialogue and steamy sex that Zane is known for, The Heat Seekers is also a saga of two strong women who face some serious issues and manage to overcome them. Best friends Janessa and Tempest have all but given up on finding straight, single, good-looking men who are not “freaks.” Out to have some fun one night, they go to a local club to “get their groove on.” As chance would have it, they end up meeting two eligible men who are also best friends. Geren is handsome, available, seemingly perfect, and is very interested in Tempest. Dvonte is a cute and charming “playa” who nonetheless wins Janessa’s heart. Erotic tension builds for Tempest and Geren as they wait to consummate their love, while Janessa and Dvonte are not ashamed to express their desires. As each couple embarks on their different relationships, the drama builds as each confront issues that could threaten their fairy tale romances. Despite the focus on sexual love, at the heart of this novel is the caring relationship these two women have with each other, and their ability to help each other through rough times. This is an entertaining, thought provoking novel that encourages readers to reflect on their own lives and accomplishments. It also has enough humor and steamy sex scenes to satisfy any reader.

Subject Headings: African American, Urban Fiction, Erotic Fiction, Unwanted Pregnancy, Contemporary Romance Appeal: candid, emotionally charged, dramatic, compassionate, humorous, romantic, sensual, erotic, playful, sympathetic characters, well developed characters, evocative, insightful, character centered, steamy, issue oriented, racy, resolved ending, strong language, sexually explicit, steamy, thought provoking, contemporary, urban, accessible, conversational

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: steamy, thought provoking, humorous

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

How Stella Got her Groove Back by Terry McMillan. Like The Heat Seekers, this book features a strong, African American protagonist who embarks on a passionate love affair and provides the reader with a fairy tale ending.

Sweeter than Honey by Mary B Morrison. This is a steamy, urban tale. Like The Heat Seekers, it features a strong female African American protagonist who encounters drama and has to overcome adversity. It also deals with complex, thought-provoking issues.

True to the Game by Teri Woods. This gritty, urban tale is grittier than The Heat Seekers, yet it provides readers with a similar steamy love affair between passionate African American characters. Like The heat Seekers, this novel deals with some of the serious issues facing contemporary young people.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors In Good Conscience: a Practical, Emotional, and Spiritual Guide to Deciding Whether to Have an Abortion by Anna Runkle. Multiple characters in The Heat Seekers deal with unwanted pregnancy, all in different ways. One character deals with a very difficult abortion. This guide will help readers who may be facing the same situation to think their pregnancy through before making a decision.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: a Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether To Stay in or Get Out of your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. In The Heat Seekers, Janessa stays in a bad relationship with Dvonte. Readers who are dealing with a similar situation in their lives may find help in this chatty, sympathetic relationship guide.

 Men, Love & Sex: the Complete User’s Guide for Women by David Zinczenko with Ted Spiker. The relationships in The Heat Seekers are complicated and the men sometimes seem like they are from another planet. At the same time, the characters are all having satisfying sexual adventures. This book would be great for readers who want to understand the other sex a little more or simply put some spark into their sex lives.

Name: Meghan Maleski

An Unlikely Countess

October 25, 2011

Author: Jo Beverly

Title: An Unlikely Countess

Genre: Historical Romance

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Number of Pages: 432

Geographical Setting: Yorkshire, England

Time Period:  Georgian Era, 1765

Series (If applicable): 11th Novel of the Malloren World

Plot Summary: On a dark night Catesby Burgoyne encounters Prudence Youlgrave and he saves her from a few ruffians.  Their encounter was not just chance.  They parted ways the next morning but they did not easily forget each other.  Both were down on their luck and not on the best terms with their families. Catesby is 2nd in line to become the Earl of Malzard and while Prudence’s family is not wealthy by any means, she feels her brother owes her for her sacrifices.  Catesby discovers that his brother, the current Earl, has died and he heads home to take on his duties as the new Earl.  Prudence heads to her brother’s home and encourages his new bride to assist her in finding a good marriage match.  Prudence is to wed a wealthy business man, but of course she never forgot Catesby and he never forgot her.  While he was supposed to be learning his duties as the new Earl he runs off to find Prudence.  Again they meet on what was to be Prudence’s wedding day, what ensues is a romantic, yet witty adventure of two once down and out people who become the unlikely Earl and Countess of Malzard.

Subject Headings: Historical Romances; Georgian England; 18th Century England

Appeal: witty, engaging, complex characters, captivating plot, delightful, fast-paced, romantic, playful, sensual, historically accurate, gentle, character-centered

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: romantic, engaging, delightful

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Aristocratic Century: the Peerage of Eighteenth-Century England by Jon Cannon – Using parts of a lecture he gave in 1982, Professor Cannon outlines the ways in which the aristocracy of the 18th century was widely accepted by all levels of society which allowed for coherence in all aspects of life, intellectual, political and social.  A non-fiction read-alike choice for An Unlikely Countess because many of the characters were part of the aristocracy and the novel discussed the lives and rules surrounding the aristocracy.

2)     Behind Closed Doors: at home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery – Professor Vickery uses her skills as a historian to deliver a well-researched account of the family and gender relations / roles of Georgian England.  Although a historian she has written a witty and vivid work, which is almost novel-like.  Using books, journals, letters, etc, she paints a picture of Georgian life that has not been seen before.  Similar to An Unlikely Countess in that we get a behind the scenes look at the domestic lives and relationships of the aristocracy of the Georgian period in the novel and this book also depicts that life in more depth. (well-researched, witty, vivid)

3)     English Society in he Eighteenth Century by Roy Porter – In this non-fiction work Porter portrays all aspects of 18th century from politics to work life, to sex.  It is a fact-filled, but delightful and witty account of life including all levels of society from prices to paupers and from the streets of London to the hamlets of Yorkshire. Non-fiction read-alike for An Unlikely Countess because it discusses the different aspects of life in the 18th century which is the time in which the characters live. (Fact-filled, witty, delightful)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Some Enchanted Evening by Christina Dodd – Clarice and her two sisters flee from their small country during a revolution are being tracked by assassins.  However, Clarice hides in plain site by selling cosmetics to townswomen and pretends to be a fallen princess.  Robert Mackenzie, the Earl of Hepburn, knows that Clarice is not a princess and is just playing a part.  He invites her to his manor, she accepts, his plan is to use her acting skills in a plot of revenge.  Danger and adventure ensue.  This is the first in a trilogy about the 3 sisters.  This is a read-alike for An Unlikely Countess because it is a historical romance and although it is set during the Regency era and not the Georgian, it is still a good match due to the humor and sensuality used.  (steamy, humorous, detailed)

2)     Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter – In the fourth Rarest Blooms Regency romance by Hunter, we encounter Daphne Joyes who runs a modest flower business, which also acts as a place of refuge for women in need of safety.  Daphne’s landlord soon dies and she meets Tristan, Duke of Castleford who inherits the land.  Tristan is instantly taken with Daphne, but she resists and a story of passionate arguments, flirtation and eventual romance. Although this is a Victorian romance, it is similar to An Unlikely Countess in that it is a witty, richly detailed, historical romance. (steamy, descriptive, witty)

3)     Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt – Temperance Dews is a widow who spends her time helping children.  Lord Caire is on the hunt for a killer in the slums which are so familiar to Temperance.  The two strike a deal that will allow Temperance to guide Caire through the alleys and slums while Caire will introduce Temperance to high society so that she might find a benefactor for the orphanage.  A romance and passion soon blossoms from what began as a business deal and danger is around every corner.  Similar to An Unlikely Countess as it is a fast-paced, detailed, historical romance set in Georgian England.  (steamy, descriptive, Georgian)

Name: Michelle Worthington

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