Posts Tagged ‘recognizable characters’

Espresso Tales

August 1, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Title: Espresso Tales

Genre: Gentle

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland

Time Period: Current

Series: 44 Scotland Street, 2

Plot Summary:

Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street and continues to follow the lives of the tenants, who happen to reside at the address 44 Scotland St.  Readers can catch up with Pat, who had just finished her second gap year, has decided to stay in Edinburgh, Bruce who needs a new job and may give the wine business a try, and gifted 6-year-old Bertie who is starting kindergarten and is forced to wear crushed-strawberry (or pink) dungarees on his first day. The characters, of various ages, form relationships in odd and endearing ways.  This is a lighthearted work that takes turns revealing the story of each of the characters.  By using alternating points of view, the reader is able to see how the different characters reflect on the other residents, and themselves, providing insight and humor.

Subject Headings:

Apartment houses; father and son; friendship; genius; gifted children; men/women relations; mother and son; neighbors; roommates; senior women; women college students; young women


Strong sense of place; amusing; upbeat; engaging; character driven; relaxed pacing; lighthearted tone; humorous tone; flawed characters; recognizable characters; insightful characters; episodic storyline

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place; amusing; relaxed pacing

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Edinburgh: A Cultural and Literary History by Donald Campbell

Alexander McCall Smith captures the city in Espresso Tales, providing a great sense of place.  This work, organized by sections of town provides an introduction to Edinburgh’s history.  For those who want to know more about the town that is the backdrop of this series.

Waiter, There’s a Horse in My Wine: A Treasury of Entertainment, Exploration and Education by America’s Wittiest Wine Critic by Jennifer Rosen

In Espresso Tales one of the characters, Bruce decides to try his luck in the wine trade.  This suggestion is for those readers who may want to know a bit more about the world of wine through a collection of humorous wine critic columns.

Hothouse kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart

This work looks at the consequences that putting too much pressure on gifted children may have.  This could be an interesting book for readers who were invested in Bertie’s difficulties with his mother and would like to learn more about the predicament of gifted children.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber by James Thurber illustrated by Marc Simont

This humorous book is a compilation of short stories detailing the roles the narrator, a meek man, imagines himself in.  Combining illustrations with Thurber’s short stories, as well as including Thurber’s amusing autobiographical essay this book may appeal to those who like the lighthearted introspection that can be found in Espresso Tales.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

In this novel, set during the Great Depression, two young couples meet and befriend one another in Wisconsin.   A stylistically complex and moving novel, this story focuses on the connections that people make, which may resonate with readers who like the unlikely friendships and acquaintances that are made at 44 Scotland Street.

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston

In this book ambitious Quinn, a British Lawyer living in New York City, is put on bed rest for the last three months of her pregnancy.  This character-driven, humorous work has Quinn reflecting on her life, getting to know her neighbors, developing relationships in places she didn’t think she would.  This book may appeal to those who like insight into their characters thoughts as well as those who like circumstances that create unlikely bonds.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

Lady Be Good — Susan Elizabeth Phillips

July 31, 2012

Author:  Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title:  Lady Be Good

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  1999

Number of Pages:  372

Geographical Setting:  Texas (primarily Dallas and Wynette, a fictional suburb of Austin)

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  Third book in the Wynette, Texas series

Plot Summary:  Lady Emma Wells-Finch—the prim, proper, and prudish headmistress of an English all-girls boarding school—is in a most unfortunate engagement to the despicable Duke of Beddington who threatens to close Emma’s beloved school if she does not agree to marry him.  Unable to turn him down, she has no other alternative but to get the Duke to call off the wedding by convincing him that he grossly misjudged her character.  Under the pretense of conducting research, Emma flies to Texas with the intention of ruining her good name through ten days of defamation and debauchery.  Only one person stands in her way: Kenny Traveler, Texas’ hottest and most (in)famous bad boy pro-golfer. Recently suspended by the PGA after his involvement in a series of scandals, Kenny is doing his darnedest to stay out of the tabloids so he can get back into the game.  So when Kenny is hired to assist Emma in her “research,” their opposing agendas—not to mention their innate attraction towards one another—puts more than a few roadblocks in their plans.  Lady Be Good is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that is both sensual and sentimental, and is an excellent starting point for those new to the romance genre.  Phillips’s witty prose is engaging and full of juicy descriptive details sure to please almost any romance reader looking for something light, quick, and humorous.

Subject Headings:  British in Texas; professional golfers; PGA tour; love stories; headmistresses; blackmail; chauffeurs

Appeal: character driven, descriptive, detailed setting of Texas, dialogue rich, engaging, familiar characters, fast paced, funny, recognizable characters, sensual, steamy, sympathetic characters

3 terms that best describe this book:  Romantic comedy, sensual, and descriptive

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Bud, Sweat, and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour by Alan Shipnuck

Alan Shipnuck provides a thoroughly detailed, no-holds-barred inside look at what really goes on during the PGA Tour, both on and off the golf course.  This title is suggested to readers especially interested in learning more about the golfing aspects of Lady Be Good.

2)  My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler

The always irreverent and bawdy Chelsea Handler relates a number of funny sexual encounters from her life.  Suggested for readers who enjoyed the steamy and scandalous sections of Lady Be Goodbut are looking for something more salacious.

3)  Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

This collection of essays from Candace Bushnell’s popular column in the New York Observer provides humorous and touching insights into the dating and sexual lifestyles of Manhattan’s upper and middle classes.  Suggested to readers who enjoyed the funny and steamy elements of Lady Be Good, but are looking for more general insights into men and women relations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

When Minerva Dobbs discovers that her new admirer, David Fisk, had bet his friends $10,000 that he can get her into bed within a month, she figures she can play him, use him as a date for her sister’s wedding, and dump him before the month ends.  Like Lady Be Good, Crusie’s Bet Me is a hilarious contemporary romance featuring an appealing and engaging cast of characters.

2)  Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Former B-movie actress Chelsea Ross is in desperate need of work, so when she is offered $10,000 to be the personal assistant to former hockey star Mark Bressler, she eagerly accepts the position despite her employer’s cantankerous disposition.  Nothing but Trouble is a funny and amusing contemporary romance between a strong female character and a professional sports player that readers of Lady Be Good may enjoy.

3)  Texas Bride by Joan Johnston

A historical romance set in late 19th-century Texas, Miranda Wentworth is forced to become a mail-order bride when the Chicago orphanage where she lives kicks her and her siblings out and marries Jake Creed, a failing Texas ranch owner struggling with the memory of his late wife.  Texas Bride is suggested to readers looking for a romance novel with a heavier western theme that is more serious in tone than Lady Be Good.

Name:  Zach Musil

The Tall Stranger

February 15, 2012

Author: Louis L Amour

Title: The Tall Stranger

Genre: Westen

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages:126

Geographical Setting: Western United States

Time Period: Oregon Trail/Wild West

Plot Summary: Much like the other works of Louis L’Amour, this story concerns traveling to the Western United States in order to find a better life. Rock Bannon, a dedicated but solitary man finds himself heading west with a group of men from the East, none of which trust him. The group is lead by the charismatic and devious Mort Harper, who quickly becomes leader of the group, even though Rock does not trust his motives. As they move further from the tail Rock knows will lead them to a better life, he questions the morals and decision making of Mort and must decide whether to venture on his own or help his fellow travelers, including the beautiful Sharon.

Subject Headings:

Wagon trains — Oregon Trail
Pioneers — The West (United States)
Outlaws — The West (United States)
Frontier and pioneer life — The West (United States)

Appeal: Plot-driven, action-oriented, fast-paced, gritty, close-ended, details of western life, colloquial, unembellished, hard-edged, recognizable characters, physical, violent, cinematic

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: plot-driven, gritty, fast-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth – William W. Savage Jr.

This book discusses the image of the cowboy in popular American culture, from the Western novel to the cinematic masterpieces and advertisements.

Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Luke Short and Others – W.B. Masterson

Deals with the history of some of America’s most interesting  cowboys and gunslingers and the men behind their  infamous names.

The Oregon Tail: A Photographic Journey – Bill Moeller

This book is comprised of photographs of The Oregon Trail, both of how it looks now and how it looked to emigrants to the West. It includes entries from diaries of those traveling on the trail during the 1800s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Town Called Fury – William W. Johnstone 

Features stand-offs with Native Americans, an attack on a westward travelling wagon and a revenge plot of one man dedicated to right the wrongs done unto his family.

Last Reville – David Morrell

A fast-paced novel in which a talented scout on the Mexican border fights to eradicate Pancho Villa from the US while becoming a mentor to a young man.

War Cry – West Charles

A gritty yet romantic story in which scout Will Cason saves a woman and finds himself the enemy of a group of Native Americans determined to destroy him.

Name: Courtney Rose


July 25, 2011

Author:  Robert B. Parker

Title:  Appaloosa

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  276

Geographical Setting:  The town of Appaloosa, western United States

Time Period:  late 1800’s

Series:  Book 1 in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series

Plot Summary:  In the lawless Old West town of Appaloosa, ranch owner Randall Bragg and his ranch hands take and do pretty much whatever they please.  Sharpshooters and guns for hire Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are called in to tame Bragg and his hands.  West Point graduate Hitch and the mysterious Cole set up shop as town marshals and quickly establish a reputation as men not to be messed with, attracting the interest of manipulative town newcomer Allie French.  Just as Cole and Hitch seem to have everything under control, Bragg kidnaps Allie French and uses her to get under the skin of the usually calm and collected Cole.  The conflict between Cole, Hitch and Bragg culminates in an action that speaks to the nature of true friendship.  In Appaloosa, well-known mystery writer Parker crafts a gritty and action-packed look into the Old West, complete with cowboys, Indians, and showdowns.

Subject Headings:  Western fiction; frontier and pioneer life; ranchers; peace officers; outlaws

Appeal:  fast-paced, gritty, plot-driven, atmospheric, dramatic, dialect-rich, spare, concise, unembellished, vivid, recognizable characters, stereotypical characters

3 terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, gritty, spare

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: 

Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West by James Reasoner: Readers who like tales of lawmen versus outlaws will enjoy Reasoner’s fast-paced and engaging look at famous shoot-outs.

Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Luke Shot and Others by W.B. Masterson: A collection of vivid mini-biographies on adventurous and well-known Old West personalities that were originally published as magazine articles in 1907.

Tough Towns: True Tales from the Gritty Streets of the Old West by Col. Robert Barr Smith: If readers enjoyed the lawless setting in Appaloosa, they might enjoy reading these accounts of small towns that fought back against gangsters and renegade gunslingers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Crossfire Trail by Louis L’Amour:  Wanderer Rafe Caradec promised dying rancher Charles Rodney that his property would be left to his daughter, but when Caradec reaches the Wyoming ranch, he finds that other greedy ranchers have sent their sights on the land.  Crossfire Trail is a fast-paced, dialect-rich and action-packed story.

The Gunfighter’s Apprentice by Jerry S. Drake (Book 1 in the Tom Patterson series):  After killing the brother of a deadly gang leader in an act of self-defense, Matt McKay’s father hires a former gunfighter by the name of Tom Patterson to teach him how to
properly handle a weapon.  As Matt and Tom’s student/mentor relationship strengthens, they prepare for the final showdown.  Readers who appreciated Parker’s atmospheric and gritty western will enjoy The Gunfighter’s Apprentice.

The Lawman by Lyle Brandt (Book 1 in the Lawman western series): Gambler Jack Slade returns to Oklahoma to investigate the mysterious death of his estranged brother.  During his search, Slade is recruited as a deputy marshal and as a result, grapples between justice and revenge as the pieces fall into place.  Spare and fast-paced, this book will appeal to first-time and veteran
western readers.

Name:  Mieko Fujiura

Mary, Mary: A Novel

October 7, 2009

See full size image

Author: James Patterson

Title: Mary, Mary

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: November 2005

Number of Pages: 392

Geographical Setting: Various places in USA: Washington D.C., and Seattle, WA, but mainly Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: Contemporary (post e-mail invention)

Series: Alex Cross Mysteries 11

Plot Summary: Alex Cross is finally getting away on vacation in Disneyland with his three children and grandmother when he finds himself pulled into the latest case. Someone assuming the name Mary Smith has started to pick off wealthy, successful mothers in LA and Alex’s expertise is needed once again. There are also other linked killings which do not fit this profile. Meanwhile, as every target is hit, an e-mail by the person claiming to be the killer is sent to a popular critic for an entertainment magazine. Parallel to the serial killings plot, there are also events taking place in Alex’s personal life involving his ex-wife, Christine and his youngest son, Alex Jr.

3 fiction read-alikes and why:

  1. John Sandford Prey Series for the lover of suspense and graphic details
  2. Harlan Coben Tell No One for the lover of the fast-paced, simplistic page-turner
  3. Douglas Kennedy The Big Picture for the engrossing, edge-of-seat appeal

3 nonfiction read-alikes and why:

  1. Ted Schwarz The Hillside Strangler: the three faces of America’s most savage rapist and murderer and the shocking revelations from the sensational Los Angeles trial! For the reader who wants to read a book set in LA about a graphic account of a psychotic serial killer. Also includes interviews from policeman and psychiatrists who worked on the case.
  2. Clifford L. Lindecker Night Stalker: a shocking story of Satanism, sex, and serial murders for a reader who likes serial killing set in LA.
  3. John Gilmore Severed: the true story of the Black Dahlia is a good documentation on the unsolved murder of an aspiring LA starlet.

3 terms that best describe the book: murder investigation, psychological suspense story, cinematic

Subject Headings:

Police – Fiction

Police Psychologists

Murder – Investigation

Psychological Suspense Stories

Los Angeles, California

Crimes against Actors and Actresses

Suspense Stories

Mystery Stories

Name: Susan

Liars & Thieves

June 1, 2009

Author: Stephen Coonts

Title: Liars & Thieves

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: 2004

Pages: 383

Geographical Setting: Washington D.C., Allegheny Mountains, Delaware, New York

Time Period: Present

Series: The first of the Tommy Carmellini series (spin off of Jake Grafton series)

Plot Summary: Tommy Carmellini—a former burglar turned CIA agent—is assigned to routine guard duty at a safe house, where he stumbles upon a bunch of dead bodies, some assassins, and the house in flames.  He rescues the one survivor, a beautiful Russian translator, along with a suitcase filled with files belonging to a KGB defector who was in the process of being debriefed when the trouble began.  Soon, they are on the run—hunted by an unknown foe—and everyone Carmellini knows is in danger.  With the help of Jake Grafton (retired hero of Coonts’s previous series), they find that not only is the KGB defector still alive, but that those who wish him and Carmellini dead are very highly-placed U.S. government officials.

Subject Headings: International intrigue, CIA, KGB, Politics, Espionage

Appeal: fast paced, compelling, suspenseful, multiple points of view, recognizable characters, action-oriented, violent, plot twists, political, details of intelligence operations, bleak, dangerous, cynical, witty dialogue, jargon

Three terms that describe this book: film noir-esque, action-packed, insider’s view

Relevant Fiction:

Stephen Coonts’s Jake Grafton novels and the following Tommy Carmellini novels.

The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy—a fast paced thriller with a cross-cutting narrative, which offers an insider’s view of CIA and KGB intelligence operations. (Jack Ryan series)

The Camel Club by David Baldacci—a Washington D.C.-set political thriller with conspiracy-theorist protagonists on the run and investigating after witnessing a crime with national and international repercussions. (The Camel Club series)

Fade by Kyle Mills—a fast paced, cynical political thriller in which an old friend pursues and attempts to re-recruit a former Homeland Security agent.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler—this classic noir detective story features an action-heavy, fast paced plot and a similarly cynical, wisecracking protagonist in Philip Marlowe.

Relevant Nonfiction:

A Spy’s Journey: A CIA Memoir by Floyd Paseman—an accessible memoir by a former field agent.

The Sword and the Shield by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin—a summary of secret KGB papers revealing the history of the KGB.  The defector and secret papers of the novel are based on Mitrokhin.

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Stan Redding and Frank W. Abagnale, Jr.—the true story of a con-turned-consultant for the FBI, the book features a wise-cracking (and real!) narrator.

World War Z

April 1, 2009

World War Z

Author: Brooks, Max
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Genre: Best-seller,
Horror, Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 352 p.
Geographical Setting: Multiple global locations
Time Period: near future: mid- to late-21st century
Series: NA

Plot Summary: When taken piece by piece, the speculated future presented in World War Z sounds speculative at best, and like a laughable horror-movie cliché at worst. Zombies take over the world! However, the author’s chosen format and the scope and circumstances of his story create an engrossing and horrifyingly believable scenario that gives the story an overall affect of believability that makes it even more frightening. Brooks presents his story—a global epidemic of a virus that reanimates the recently dead and imbues them with a single purpose: to attack and infect the living—in a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse. These detailed, emotional, and terrifying accounts are arranged in roughly chronological order, exploring the origin of the outbreak in rural China, tracing its spread across the planet, delving into the reactions of various governments—which range from brutally harsh plans that some see as tantamount to genocide to so fueled by denial as to have the same ultimate effect—and the different military reactions to the threat. The survival stories are not limited to the political or military, however. Also included are accounts by common citizens—a Midwestern teenager whose family flees north (zombies are slowed by cold temperatures) and discover another threat in a massive, unregulated refugee camp, a soldier who fought in several key battles across the United States, a blind hermit in Japan, a European historian who discusses how various groups used the continent’s medieval fortresses as defense. Brooks’ interview format allows him to focus on the smallest facets of his detailed characters, and the stories they tell are action-packed and rich with fascinating details of any number of topics, well beyond the physiology of zombies and the best way to survive their ceaseless attack. World War Z is much more than a zombie horror story. It is a spellbinding study in speculative history, sociology, and epidemiology, as well as a cautionary tale for today’s shrinking world.

Subject Headings: Undead; Zombies; Supernatural; Epidemics; Diseases; Post-apocalypse, Oral histories; Survival (after epidemics); War

Appeal: alternative history, apocalyptic, atmospheric, bleak, candid, character-centered, cinematic, compelling, complex, conversational, darker, detailed settings, details of military strategy, details of survival techniques, details of zombies, direct, dramatic, edgy, engaging, engrossing, episodic, explicitly violent, frightening, futuristic, jargon, journalistic, menacing atmosphere, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view, nightmare, oral history, plot-centered, political, recognizable characters, resolved ending, retrospective, speculative, speculated near-future, strong language, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking, tragic, unusual narrative voice, vivid, well-drawn characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Darker Angels, S.P. Somtow. 1998. (horror, zombies, alternate history, Civil War)

· Earth Abides, George R. Stewart. 1949. (post-epidemic apocalypse, speculative “near future,” survival)

· Oryx and Crake, Margaret Attwood. 2003. (post-apocalypse, near future, genetic engineering, survival)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

· The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. Studs Terkel. 1984. (oral history, war stories, inspiration for World War Z)

· The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Deadliest Epidemic–and How It Changed the Way We Think about Disease, Cities, Science, and the Modern World. Steven Johnson. 2006. (epidemics, detailed study of origin and spread of cholera in urban setting, microhistory)

· False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. Marc Siegel. 2005. (fear, epidemics, manipulation of public fear, propaganda)

Name: Cynthia

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

March 23, 2009

Author: Miller, Frank

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1986 (single magazine form)

Number of Pages: 199 pp (hard cover edition)

Geographical Setting: Gotham City, United States

Time Period: post-1980’s

Plot Summary: Ten years have passed since Bruce Wayne has donned the cowl and cape of Batman, Gotham City’s Dark Knight. Retirement seemed the only option for Batman after Jason Todd, the second Robin, was murdered at the hands of his arch-nemesis, the Joker. And as Commissioner Gordon finds himself on the eve of his own retirement, one would think that the dusk of his career should be a smooth road with Catwoman retired and leading a second career as an escort service madam; the Joker comatose, wordless, and without action at Arkham Asylum for a decade; and former District Attorney, Harvey Dent cured of his dual personality, the criminal mastermind Two-Face with the aid of his sponsor and friend, Bruce Wayne. The city is currently amidst in crime; acts of murder and mayhem have run amok. Gotham is now in the grips of a merciless street gang who call themselves, the Mutants. Wayne sees no other option than grabbing his utility belt and reliving the part of his life that always brought him satisfaction and, admittedly, joy; never minding the fact that he’s 60 years old now. And as Batman battles the Mutants, the nation unravels. A nuclear war with Russia looms in the certain future, and a caricature of President Reagan plays puppet master to the nation’s newest and most-feared weapon, Superman himself. As the news of freshly unretired Batman hits the evening news, the Batman-longing Joker wakes from his comatose state, Dent returns to his evil Two Face ways, a government plot to arm the Mutants is revealed, and Superman knows that a reluctant battle against his friend is imminent. And if that isn’t enough, Batman has to train a new Robin, a teenage girl named Carrie Kelly. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a trailblazing graphic novel that thrusts the comic book universe into a future that exists with real-life issues and adult content. There is no longer a defined line between good and evil.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novel; Comics; Superhero; Secret Identity; Detective; Vigilante; Legend; Supervillains; Nemeses; Good and Evil; Heroine; Urban Warfare; Crime; Nuclear War; Nuclear Fallout; Dystopia; Gang Violence; Redemption; Media Frenzy; Biological Weapons

Appeal: noir, violent, gritty, revenge, gloomy, bloody, tense, murder, multiple points-of-view, political, apocalyptic, stark, foreboding, strong central character, strong secondary characters, vivid, dark, angry, multiple plot lines, dismal

Similar Authors & Works: Watchmen by Alan Moore and illustrator David Gibbons, along with Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, are considered to be the quintessential graphic novels of the modern era. It is a story about a ragtag crew of superheroes that set to untangle a plot to discredit and kill them one-by-one while past events come to the forefront. Marvel Comics’ Civil War by Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven is a tale of the United States introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act which requires any person that possesses with superhuman abilities to register with the government as a “weapon of mass destruction.” They would then have to reveal their secret identity and proceed to be trained by the government. This splits the Marvel Universe’s heroes into two factions that battle to decide if this is right or if this is slavery. Wolverine: Origin by Paul Jenkins, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas, and illustrator, the legendary Andy Kubert, bring light to the true beginnings of another of the comic world’s favorite characters. Here, the reader is shown the upbringing of Logan and how he became the Marvel Universe’s most popular brooding and gritty warrior.

Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: The Gunfighter: Man or Myth? by Joseph G. Rosa is an account of the history, the legend, and the creation of the Western gunslingers. It looks at profiles of some of the most famous and infamous characters of that era: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kid. Global Vigilantes by David Pratten is a book that discusses the vigilante movements and their ideologies that are prevalent throughout modern parts of the world. It profiles those individuals and groups that maintain awareness events of local crime to political espionage. The New Vigilantes: De-programmers, Anti-cultists, and New Religions by Anson Schupe and David Bromley is a book that deals more with the rising issues and movements that infiltrate the everyday fabric of modern society.


The Lone Ranger, Volumes 1 and 2

March 18, 2009

Author: Matthews, Brett (writer) and Cariello, Sergio (illustrator)
Title: The Lone Ranger
Genre: Graphic Novel; Western
Publication Date: 2007; 2008
Number of Pages: 160 p.; 140 p.
Geographical Setting: Texas, Wyoming, other Western locations
Time Period: 1869
Series: The Lone Ranger. Serial comic book, series continues to present

Plot Summary: A “reboot” of the iconic Western story—which has been a serial staple for decades, on radio, in film, on television, and in books and comics—Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello’s new comic The Lone Ranger goes back to the roots of the mysterious masked hero, skillfully and engagingly revealing his family history, his the origin of his friendship with Tonto, his motivation to become a masked vigilante, and the development of his particular “no-kill” moral code. The hero’s origins are revealed in flashbacks presented throughout the series, and the first twelve issues (collected in six-issue hardbacks) sets up his transformation into the Lone Ranger and his quest to find and bring to justice the man responsible for the death of his family. While faithful to the source mythology, the new series does make some changes to the “classic” version of the characters. The author and artist collaborated carefully to make sure that Tonto, the Native American man who joins the Lone Ranger’s quest, was a more three-dimensional, less stereotypical character with his own backstory and motivations and relieving him of his broken English and unquestioning devotion. The interior and cover art is vivid and atmospheric, beautifully capturing the Western landscapes and framing the action and characters within it.

Readers who turn to this incarnation of The Lone Ranger because of a childhood affection for the 1950s TV series will be pleased with the detail and care given to the characters but may be surprised by the graphic violence portrayed. The Lone Ranger’s no-kill code does not entirely prevent him from committing other acts of violence, and most of the other characters have no qualms about killing. This is a comic meant for teens and adults, not children. The series won the 2006 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Cover Artist, and True West magazine’s awarded the series the “Best Western Comic Book of the Year” in their 2009 Best of the West Source Book.

Subject Headings: Lone Ranger; Tonto; Western stories; Texas; Texas Rangers; adventure; comics and graphic novels; serial publications; series characters; interracial friendship; vengeance; law and justice; vigilantes; Old West.

Appeal: action-oriented, award-winner, character-centered, cinematic, colorful, darker, detailed characterization, detailed setting, details of Old West, details of Texas Rangers, dramatic, engaging, episodic, evocative, explicitly violent, faithful characterization, familiar characters, flashbacks, hard-edged, melodramatic, menacing atmosphere, psychological, recognizable characters, rural atmospheric, series characters, strong secondary characters, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, vivid, well-developed characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Rangers of the Lone Star. Zane Grey. (Classic Western author, Texas Rangers)

· Lonesome Dove. Larry McMurtry. (character driven Western featuring retired Texas Rangers; see also McMurtry’s “prequels” featuring the characters’ careers in the Rangers.)

· Bat Lash: Guns and Roses. Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones (writers); John Severin (illustrator). (Comics and graphic novels, Western, update of classic Western comic book character)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  • Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers. Robert M. Utley (history of the Texas Rangers in the 19th century)
  • Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. Randolph B. Campbell. (Texas history)
  • Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor, editors. (essays about Hollywood’s interpretations of the West)

Name: Cynthia

The Old Spanish Trail

March 18, 2009

Author: Ralph Compton

Title: The Old Spanish Trail

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1998

Page count: 278

Geographical Setting: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California

Time Period: 1862

Series: Book no. 11 in the Trail Drive series

Plot summary: Don Webb and his Texan posse are thrilled to hear their friend, Warren Blocker, has made his fortune in Santa Fe and has agreed to purchase five thousand head of cattle from them. But when the cattle drive arrives in New Mexico, the men are shocked to discover that Blocker and his wife have already been robbed and murdered by a group of renegades. The Civil War is looming back in Texas and money there is scarce. Rather than return home empty-handed, the cowboys learn of another buyer in Los Angeles and embark on a harrowing journey to California in hope of selling off the herd. The men follow the Old Spanish trail, a route infamous for its rough terrain and hostile Indians. To complicate matters further, the group is being tailed by two gangs of outlaws bent on revenge and robbery. The men’s bravery and heroism, though tested at every turn, never wane in this exciting tale of camaraderie and the American frontier.

Subject Headings: Cattle Drives; Cattle drives—Old Spanish Trail; Old Spanish Trail; Western stories

Appeal: plot centered, page turner, suspenseful, action oriented, details of old west, historical detail, unpretentious, simple, concise, rural, stark, violence, recognizable characters

Similar Works (fiction): Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry (cattle drive from Texas to Montana, suspense and perilous situations)

Dark Trail to Dodge – Cotton Smith (story of an ambushed cattle drive en route to Kansas)

Trail’s End – Frederic Bean (dangerous trails, details hardships of a cattle drive from Mexico to Kansas)

Similar Works: (nonfiction): Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850 – Joseph P. Sanchez (narrative history of the Old Spanish Trail)

The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore – David Dary (historical accounts of another old west trail)

The Way West: True Stories of the American Frontier – James A Crutchfield, ed. (true life accounts of the American expansion westward)

Name: Suzanne