Posts Tagged ‘profanity’

Salvage the Bones

August 14, 2012

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Title: Salvage the Bones

Genre: African American

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 258

Geographical Setting: Rural Mississppi

Time Period: 2005 (Hurricane Katrina)

Plot Summary: In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Esch, fifteen, finds out she is pregnant. She and her brothers are leading a hard-scrabble life in rural Mississippi. Randall hopes to get a basketball scholarship and Skeetah is breeding his prize fighting pit bull. Things come to a dramatic conclusion as the Hurricane hits.

Subject Headings: African American teenage girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Brothers and sisters-fiction; Rural poor-Mississippi-fiction; Hurricane Katrina 2005-fiction.

Appeal: descriptive, gritty, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, realistic, bleak, poignant, sexually explicit, profanity, earthy, rural.

3 terms that best describe this book: realistic, gritty, rural setting.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story by James Patterson Smith. Tells of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the devastation of sixty five thousand homes and the precarious days of food and water shortages that followed.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
A true-life story of one man’s ordeal in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr.Zeitoun was allegedly mistaken for a terrorist and detained for over 20 days without ever standing trial.

Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a great American City by Jed Horne
An editor of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune presents victims’ tales and the politics behind the disastrous relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. Literary, character-driven, bleak, haunting, lyrical.

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Semi-autobiographical novel of a childhood in 1950s-60s South Carolina. The protagonist, nicknamed Bone, is a victim of poverty and physical abuse, including sexual abuse. Her family, like Esch’s, are poor, loving, and protective.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Set in Haiti’s impoverished villages and in New York’s Haitian community, this is the story of Sophie Caco, who was conceived in an act of violence, abandoned by her mother and then summoned to America.

Name: Sonia Reppe

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

August 1, 2012

Author: Pearl Cleage

Title: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Idlewild, Michigan

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  No

Plot Summary: After an event filled life in Atlanta, Ava Johnson finds that she is HIV positive. On her move to San Francisco, Ava decides to make a stopover in her childhood town of Idlewild, Michigan to visit her widowed sister Joyce Mitchell. Idlewild was once an idyllic lakeside getaway for African-American families in northern Michigan, but now resembles a rundown rural town crushed by the big city troubles of drugs, crime, abuse and teen pregnancies. Ever positive and upbeat, action oriented Joyce sweeps Ava along with her as they work to turn the fortunes of Idlewild around. The writing reflects an authentic and warm relationship between Ava and Joyce. Using humor and straightforward language, the characters are well-drawn and the events are realistic. Some profanity and sexual situations are part of the story, but also reflect the reality of the grim situations depicted. This is a disquieting yet hopeful account of how strong and positive relationships between friends and family can change things for the better.

Subject Headings: African American Women – Fiction, AIDS (Disease) – Patients – Michigan – Fiction, City and town life – Michigan – Fiction, Michigan – Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, measured pacing, dramatic, evocative, hopeful, humor, romantic, sobering, thoughtful, character-driven, flawed, issue-oriented, racy, strong language, contemporary, rural, accessible, conversational, profanity, candid

3 terms that best describe this book: Candid, character-driven, hopeful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Austin, Lynn N. A Woman’s Place; This is a character-driven issue-oriented story that revolves around the lives of four disparate women who work at the Seneca Shipyards in Michigan during WWII.Virginia, Helen, Rosa, and Jean form an enduring bond of support and encouragement during challenging times, just as Joyce and Ava do.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God; This character-driven narrative conveys the story of Janie Crawford, a young southern African American woman living in the 1930s. Her journey echoes the lives of Ava and Joyce who come to understand that life is best lived when time is taken to listen and learn from both the good and the bad choices people have made.

McMillan, Terry. The Interruption of Everything; Girlfriends and family come together to rally around Marilyn Grimes, a 44 year-old African-American mother of three college age children and one boring husband. This group of strong women encourage and support each other as they grapple with contemporary issues using humor and hope.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Apter, Terri. SisterKnot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What; This authoritative and insightful book explores the relationships between sisters and female friends reflecting much of the history and evolution that Ava and Joyce experience.

Millner, Denene. The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life; This book tackles issues facing  contemporary African-American women with humor and insight, not unlike the Statement of Purpose composed by Joyce and Ava that lists the 10 things every free woman should know.

Sherman, Charlotte Watson, (Ed). Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; A collection of 50 poems and short stories about African-American women written by notable African-American writers. The text explores, often in vivid detail and graphic language, many contemporary issues facing African-American women today echoing many of the issues faced by characters in What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.

Name: Patty Daniel


April 6, 2011

Author: Joe Hill

Title: Horns

Genre: Horror / Audio book

Publication Date: 2010

Length: 12 compact discs (13 hours, 50 minutes unabridged)

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:
Ignatius Perrish seemed to have it all: a promising internship abroad, a devoted relationship with his childhood sweetheart, and the admiration of his family and New Hampshire community. Then the unthinkable happens: Merrin Williams, the love of his life, is found raped and murdered. Despite never being charged or tried for the crime, he is found guilty in the court of public opinion and lives in his own private hell.

After a particularly nasty bender, Ig wakes up to discover horns protruding from his temples. The horns give him the power of insight, compelling strangers and friends and family alike to confess their darkest impulses and feelings. While he uncovers the truth about Merrin’s death, he realizes just how dark human nature really is, and wonders if he should just give in to the devil inside of him.

Subject Headings:
Devil, Faith, Good and evil, Lovers, Revenge, Murder victims, Grief, New Hampshire, Telepathy, Monsters, Transformation, Brothers

Page-turning, descriptive, visceral, darkly humorous, compelling, violent, suspenseful, speculative, dark, bleak, engrossing, flawed characters, profanity, sexually explicit, flashbacks, unaffected language

3 terms that best describe this book:
Compelling, gruesome, cynical

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
King explores the darker side of human nature in this collection of four novellas, which include a rape victim taking revenge, a pact with the devil, and a murder victim that just won’t stay dead.
Similarities: Revenge, dark side of humanity, dealing with the devil

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta
Failed Hollywood filmmaker Eric Shaw is intrigued by a commission to produce a memorial documentary about billionaire Campbell Bradford, but finds himself in over his head when he arrives in West Baden, Indiana, Bradford’s mysterious hometown, a place that oozes with evil.
Similarities: Suspenseful and thriller-esque, well-developed characters, supernatural elements

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker
Action movie star Todd Pickett recovers from plastic surgery in a famous mansion, whose strange panoramic painted tiles unleash hellish creatures on the hunt for his soul.
Similarities: Dark humor, violence, morally ambiguous characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
But I Trusted You: And Other True Cases by Ann Rule
Exploration of criminal cases wherein the victims have been murdered by trusted spouses, lovers, friends, and family.
Similarities: Ig is suspected of murdering his lover, Merrin

People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck
A trained psychiatrist, Peck uses case studies, one of which details demonic possession and exorcism, to analyze ways that evil manifests itself in human behavior, and how one may combat it.
Similarities: Exploration of evil, demonic possession

The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna
The authors recount 10 contemporary tales of possession and haunting, also profiling the work of two active exorcists. They supplement the tales with historical analysis and an appendix of terms, rituals, and exorcism prayers.
Similarities: Demonic possession

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

Heart-Shaped Box

April 5, 2011

Author: Joe Hill

Title: Heart-Shaped Box

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: Upstate New York, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  Aging rock star Judas (Jude) Coyne is a collector of macabre memorabilia.  His assistant, Danny, receives an email about an online auction in which a woman is selling her deceased step-father’s ghost, which haunts one of his old suits.  Judas wins the auction, and shortly receives a package of a heart-shaped box, with the dead man’s suit inside.  Soon, strange things start happening, as the dead man begins to appear to Jude.    Jude discovers that the ghost has ties to someone in his past, and that winning the auction for the old man’s ghost was no accident, but actually a sophisticated and morbid plan for revenge.  Quickly, Jude realizes that the ghost is trying use hypnosis and mind tricks that he had been an expert in when still living, to get him to kill himself and those around him.  Eventually Jude and his girlfriend, Marybeth, realize that in order to rid themselves of the ghost, they must confront the woman that sold it to them, and so they head out on a supernatural and bloody road trip of the American south.

Subject Headings: Horror Fiction; Music – Rock and Roll; Ghosts; Hypnosis; Paranormal

Appeal: Fast-paced, builds in intensity, chilling, foreboding, haunting, suspenseful, detailed characters, flawed characters, cinematic, flashbacks, imaginative, profanity, violence

Three terms that describe this book: Chilling, fast-paced, engrossing

Relevant non-fiction works:

Night Stalks the Mansion: A True Story of One Family’s Ghostly Adventure by Constance Westbie and Harold Cameron (The story of one family’s ordeal with a supernatural presence in their Philadelphia mansion)

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross (The biography of one of the rock stars used as a model for Judas Coyne,  and whose song the book was titled after)

Hypnosis for Beginners by Dylan Morgan (A beginners guide to hypnosis, a skill used by the ghost to wreak havoc on Judas and Marybeth)

Relevant Fiction works:

The Dark Half by Stephen King (A horror novel about a supernatural being taking revenge for his own death)

The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin (A murder mystery involving a legendary rock band)

Darkness Falling: A Novel of Vampirism and Rock and Roll (Another novel that incorporates rock and roll into a horror/paranormal story)

Lee R. Sigman

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

March 30, 2011

Author: Powell, Julie

Title: Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen: how one girl risked her marriage, her job and her sanity to master the art of living (1st. ed.)


Julie and Julia: my year of cooking dangerously (pbk.)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Best Seller

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 309

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 2002-2003, shortly after 9/11

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: Feeling the need for some kind of purpose or guidance in the wake of September 11th (and while working unhappily for a closely-related government agency), the author stumbles upon her mother’s old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by PBS-staple Julia Child. Her husband introduces her to the blossoming world of blogs and she decides to chronicle her journey of cooking every recipe in the book over the course of a year. Soon she has dedicated blog followers, frustrating shopping lists, an exasperated mother, a mostly-patient husband, maggots in the kitchen and media attention.

Subject Headings: cooking, self-discovery, writing, food writing, blogs, New York City, Julia Child, French cooking, memoir, marriage, anecdotes

Appeal: easy, candid, humorous, sarcastic, flawed, quirky, domestic, episodic, strong language, contemporary, urban, accessible, candid, chatty, profanity, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: searching, food, humor

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Ayun Halliday.
Fans of the quirky humor Julie Powell bestowed on her food writing may really enjoy this tome, by a fellow New Yorker.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, by Judith Jones.
The editor that brought Julia Child to the world also had a fascinating career herself, full of food, books and adventure. Readers who found Powell’s meal descriptions tantalizing may eat up this book.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon.
Many readers now picking up Julie and Julia have already seen the movie and may be disappointed by the book’s significant lack of “Julia time,” as compared to the film. This collection of letters flushes out the real-life friendship between Julia and Avis in a way Powell’s book can not.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith.
Fans of intelligent humor often cite McSweeney’s and The Believer as must-reads. Here, many of those writers are brought together for short character studies, just as delectable as Powell’s descriptions of her friends and co-workers.

Citizen Girl, by Emma McLaughlin
For those readers who can sympathize with Julie Powell’s frustrating work experiences and the desire to go further than the corporate world seems to allow. McLaughlin also wrote the popular Nanny Diaries books, prized for their humor and relatable heroine.

Secrets to Happiness, by Sarah Dunn
Marital discord can be funny and those who enjoyed peeking into Powell’s homelife alongside her foodlife may enjoy this story of a newly-divorced New Yorker playing therapist to her friends.

Name: Genevieve Grove

Julie and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously

June 16, 2010

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously

Genre: nonfiction, memoir, best-seller

Publication Date: 2005

Plot Summary:

Just like you should always do your grocery shopping on a full stomach, you should not read this book until after you have eaten. Powell’s delectable descriptions of her cooked meals are short, succinct and sexy. In this memoir, Julie Powell is a women stuck in the vicious circle of temp jobs after failing (or not even really trying) to be an actress in New York. On her latest hysteric breakdown, her husband, encouraging to a fault, suggests she do something that she actually likes, cooking, for example. Julie decides to start a blog about cooking through every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book is cynical, hilarious, self-obsessed and triumphant. For all you horror genre lovers out there, Julie has to stalk lobsters through the boroughs of New York and murder them with knives and boiling water, while they wiggle their innocent little tentacles at her and try to jump the grocery bag.

Subject Headings:

Food Writing; Humore Writing; Autobiography; Memoir; Julie Powell; Julia Child; Women Cooks—anecdotes; French Cooking; Food Habits; Marriage

Appeals: cynical, hilarious, self-obsessed, triumphant, sexual, intimate, urban, dramatic, accessible, profanity, witty, unhurried

3 words to describe book: cynical, funny, appetizing

Read a likes:


The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

This novel tells of a cooking class that takes place at a restaurant where the students learn that they need more than just recipes and become involved in each other’s lives. This is if you like a more literary pick.

Cooking for Mr. Right – Susan Volland

At a similar age as Powell, a Seattle chef has a quarter life crisis because of her recent pink slip and break up, so she decides (once again, like Powell) to cook up a scheme to redeem her life.

Deep Dish – Mary Kay Andrews

The Cooking Channel is hiring. Gina wants the job. So does Mr. Kill It and Grill It. He is the ideal candidate, but Gina knows she can take him on… or turn him on? For foodies that also like romance.


Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Julia Child

A given. Julia Child’s French cook book for American housewives without servents. The book that Julie Powell cooked out of.

My Kitchen Wars – Betty Harper Fussell

If you like historical fiction, this would be a next step. Fussell writes about her personal war with the place of women during and following WW2.

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

Sedaris, a humorist writer, remembers his days living in Paris as an American. (Julia Child also moved to Paris as an American, which is where she started writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) The book is similarly a humorous memoir like Powell’s.