Posts Tagged ‘relaxed pace’

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

August 8, 2012

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Author: Ruth Reichl

Title: Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoirs; Autobiographies (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York and Connecticut

Time Period: 1950’s

Plot Summary: Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor-in-chief and restaurant critic for The New York Times, writes memoirs about her childhood written under the umbrella of food and cooking. Cooking was her escape from her dysfunctional family, but especially in dealing with her mother who suffered from a mental illness. Although it sounds like this book should be sad and tragic, the stories are told in an amusing and heartwarming way. This novel is set at a relaxed pace as you get to know Ruth as well as the many other descriptive and engaging characters.

Subject Headings: Reichl, Ruth; Cooking; Growing up; Food habits-United States; Recipes

Appeal: character-driven, relaxed pace, amusing, bittersweet, heartwarming, inspirational, nostalgic, candid, conversational, descriptive, dialect-rich, engaging, lush, hopeful, thoughtful, imaginative, clever, colorful, metaphorical

3 terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, descriptive, and character-driven

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber – If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and culture and liked the relaxed pace and amusing nature of Tender at the Bone, you may enjoy this book.

2.    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver- If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and are interested in finding out more about locally grown foods, you may enjoy this read alike.

3.      Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell – If you enjoy reading autobiographies about food and cooking,and appreciate a book with a conversational and humorous tone just like Tender at the Bone, you might want to try this book. (Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – If you like reading humorous stories about a chefs and cooking set in a relaxed pace, you may enjoy this book.

2.      Corinna Chapman Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood – If you enjoy reading engaging mysteries about food and cooking, this series might appeal to you. (First book in the series is Earthly Delights.)

3.      The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – If you liked the character-driven nature of Tender at the Bone, but would like to try something a little bit more offbeat and lyrical, you might want to try this book.

Name: Patty Prodanich

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

April 11, 2012

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Genre: Historical fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 499

Geographical Setting: Mexico

Time Period: 1880s

Series: n/a, but story is continued in Queen of America.

Plot Summary: The Hummingbird’s Daughter is the historic story of Urrea’s great aunt. After researching his Aunt Teresita for twenty years, Urrea recreated the magical stories of the People’s struggle and his aunt that were passed down to him. Teresita is born into hardship, her young mother abandons Teresita early on and with no idea of who her father is Teresita is forced to move in with an abusive aunt. However the small-village life opens up new possibilities for Terestia as she makes friends with a healing woman named Huila. It is soon discovered that Teresita also inherited skills in healing. Urrea uses a strong sense of place and nature writing to give Teresita the power to heal with herbs and plants. As Teresita becomes a young woman, it becomes obvious to the People that her ability to heal is more than earthly and they deem her to be a Saint. Crowds gather as she heals and sends a message that the Mexican government sees as rebellious and threatening. Through poetic language and a witty undercurrent an inspiring story is woven through historic details creating a dramatic and thoughtful image of Saint Teresita.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls – fiction. Young women – fiction. Mexican Civil War – fiction. Nineteenth century – fiction. Women healers – fiction. Women saints – fiction. Ranchers – fiction. Family – fiction. Paternity – fiction. Near-death experience – fiction. Faith – fiction. Revolutions – fiction. Midwife – fiction.

Appeal: magical, compelling, well-developed characters, faithful characters, character-driven, thought-provoking, political, atmospheric, historical details, descriptive language, poetic, inspiring, witty, strong sense of place, strong sense of nature, relaxed pace.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: magical, poetic, well-developed characters

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard – A collection of writings about nature and spirituality, written with a poetic style.

Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow – Just as Huila taught Teresita the power of plants, you can learn too. 200 herbs, their descriptions, and their healing uses are explained in this book.

The Big Book of Women Saints by Sarah Gallick – It was her People that gave Teresita the title of being a Saint, we saw her own understanding of the situation, her inner desires, and her sense of purpose. Read about the lives of other Saintly women.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Sacred Ground by Barbara Wood – In this character-driven, moving, and compelling novel, a young female healer is cursed by another person in her village. The curse affects and radiates through her life and her family relationships.

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – Through Twain’s witty writing style, moving tone, with a strong sense of place, he explores the life of Joan of Arc in this historical fiction.

Malafrena by Ursula K. Le Guin – Like The Hummingbird’s Daughter, this is a historical fiction and a coming-of-age story combined, with a relaxed pace and an atmospheric tone the story of a man who leaves his town to join a revolution.

name: Jaymie

Lost & Found

April 5, 2012

Author:  Jacqueline Sheehan

Title:  Lost & Found

Genre:  Women’s Lives

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages: 278

Geographical Setting:  Maine

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Rocky Pelligrino

Plot Summary:   Rocky (Roxanne) came home one day to find her husband Bob unconscious on the bathroom floor.  Her instincts, left over from her lifeguarding days, kicked in, but it was not enough to save him.   His death came suddenly from a heart condition that put him at risk for cardiac arrest.  Rocky decided to take a yearlong leave of absence from her job as a psychologist.  She felt she could no longer counsel her patients while she was grieving herself.  She decides to move east to Maine, somewhere where no one would know of nor ask about her recent loss.  She falls right into place in Maine making new friends, finding a place to rent, and starting a new job as the Animal Control Warden.  While on the job, Rocky volunteers to provide a foster home for a wounded black lab she names Lloyd.  With the help of her new canine friend Rocky begins to overcome her grief.  At times the perspective switches to Lloyds and the reader sees how the lab is actively trying to help Rocky through her grief.  Eventually news of Lloyd’s previous owner surfaces and Rocky is faced with the possibility of losing the relationship that has been holding her together.

Subject Headings:  Animal welfare – fiction, heart attacks – fiction, Maine – Fiction, psychologists – fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, remarkable pets, heart disease, widows, loss, grieving, new careers, friendships, relaxed pace, cancer, archery, animal cruelty, emotional disorders, eating disorders

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, overcoming grief, remarkable pets

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dog Years (2007) by Mark DotyDoty relies on the unconditional love and joy of his two retrievers, Beau and Arden, to comfort himself and his terminally ill partner Wally.  Dog Years is a story of remarkable pets and of dealing with death and grief.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (2008) by Vivki MyronThis heartwarming book is about a librarian who unexpectedly adopts a cat.  The remarkable pet becomes a library mascot and fosters lasting friendships.

Dogs and the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing, and Inspiration by Allen AndersonThis book is collection of stories about women who were healed or nurtured by their extraordinary dogs.


3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

 Abide With Me (2006) by Elizabeth StroutWidower Tyler Caskey is grieving from the loss of his wife Lauren in a small town in 1950s Maine

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst  – Paul Iverson investigates the mysterious death of his wife with the help of his dog Lorelei.  Paul believes he can get Loerelei to communicate with him the true nature of his wife’s death.

Home Safe (2009) by Elizabeth Berg – Helen Ames has recently lost her husband Dan.  In her grief she is no longer able to maintain her career as a writer.  This Women’s lives genre novel deals with grieving and overcoming loss.

Noel M.

True Believer

April 4, 2012

Author: Nicolas Sparks

Title: True Believer

Genre: Gentle Read

Publication Date: April 2005

Number of Pages: 322

Geographical Setting: Boone Creek, North Carolina

Time Period: Present

Series: Sequel: At first sight

Plot Summary: New Yorker Jeremy Marsh finds himself in Boone Creek, North Carolina to write a story about a cemetery haunted by ghosts. Marsh is a science writer who has made a name for himself by disproving psychic and paranormal phenomena. In Boone Creek he meets the beautiful but guarded town librarian Lexie whom he quickly finds himself drawn to. The leisurely novel creates a character-centered, heartwarming story that explores opposites attracting despite all odds.

Subject Headings: Men/women relations, Skeptics, Belief and doubt, Journalists, Librarians, Women psychics, Ghosts, Paranormal phenomena, Small town life-North Carolina

Appeal: heartwarming, homespun, bittersweet, conversational, easy, relaxed pace, nostalgic, character-centered, sentimental, rural, gentle

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, character-centered, homespun

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach.

Readers interested in Jeremy’s investigation of the supposed spirits haunting the cemetery might enjoy this accessible, engaging science writing exploring the possibility of an afterlife. Roach’s ability to make science palatable to the everyday reader is akin to the science writing the protagonist does in True Believer.

Knee High by the Fourth of July: More Stories of Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest, by Jean Tennant.

Readers who enjoyed the detail of small town life in the South and the bittersweet exploration of domestic life may enjoy Tennant’s collection of stories about growing up in small towns in the Midwest. The stories are heartwarming and nostalgic, featuring a wide variety of tones.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

Marsh is a New Yorker who has some culture shock to adjust to when he travels to Boone Creek, North Carolina. This true story follows a gay couple as they decide to integrate themselves into the country despite their urban background. Humorous but poignant, the couple ends up overcoming the odds to create a successful farm business.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Call Me Irresistible, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Phillips’s book is another tale of an outsider finding unexpected love. Protagonist Meg is stuck in a hostile, small town in Texas after disrupting her best friend’s wedding when she finds the man of her dreams. Readers who do not mind a more humorous take on a similar plot might enjoy Call Me Irresistible.

The Sunflower, by Richard Paul Evans

After her fiancé calls off the marriage a week before their wedding, Christine decides to volunteer in Peru where she meets an American doctor. Heartwarming and hopeful, Christine’s journey is similar in Lexie’s as she most overcome old wounds to give a new love a chance.

Finding the Way Home, by Sarah Byrd

Byrd’s book is another heartwarming tale of a character picking up and moving to a village setting and finding love and redemption in the process of interacting with a few different secondary characters. Fans of the gentle romance in True Believer may appreciate the more inspirational love story presented in Finding the Way Home.


November 16, 2011

Author: Emma Donoghue

Title: Landing

Genre: GLBT; Love Stories

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 336

Geographical Setting: Ontario, Canada; Dublin, Ireland

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Jude Turner is a 25-year-old museum curator from the small town of Ireland, Ontario. She is terrified of flying, but forces herself to face her fears when she goes to visit her sick mother. While on the plane she meets Sîle O’Shaughnessy, a flight attendant who lives in Dublin, Ireland. After a long and intense conversation during their flight, they exchange contact information. Weeks later, the two women find themselves still thinking of each other constantly. They begin writing to each other via email as they simultaneously lead their respective lives. Despite the fact that they are both romantically involved with other partners, Jude and Sîle fall in love over the course of their correspondence. They face various obstacles, and try to make their relationship work despite the distance and the differences in their lifestyles. In her review of the novel, Martha Segal Block from BookList has said: “Despite its lesbian protagonists and twenty-first-century trappings of email, global travel and cell phones, this remains an old-fashioned love story about compromise and growth” (Volume 103, Number 13, Page 61).

Subject Headings: Fear of Flying, Flight Attendants, Interpersonal Attraction, Lesbian Couples, Lesbians, Letter Writing, Long Distance Romance, Luddites, Opposites, Young Women.

Appeal: Character-Driven, Issue-Oriented, Relaxed Pace, Funny, Heartwarming, Bittersweet, Romantic, Upbeat, Engaging, Accessible, Witty, Thoughtful.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: Romantic, Upbeat, Engaging

3 Relevant Works and Authors:


Beautiful Game by Kate Christie

Cam Wallace is on a full soccer scholarship to her dream school. She is happy with her life and her friends, but still has not reached a point where she feels comfortable “coming out” to the people in her life. When she falls in love with fellow soccer player Jess, she must decide whether to pursue the relationship. May appeal to readers who enjoy lesbian romantic fiction.

The Girl Back Home by R.E. Bradshaw

Jamie Basnight is a successful lawyer moving back to the town where she grew up following a devastating break from her longtime partner. The novel follows Jamie as she starts over and reconnects with the first woman she had feelings for, Sandy, who is now married with children. May appeal to readers who enjoy lesbian romantic fiction.

Storms by Gerri Hill

Carson Cartwright returns to the Montana horse ranch where she grew up to reconcile with her estranged father. While there she develops unexpected feelings for attractive business consultant Kerry Elder. May appeal to readers who enjoy lesbian romantic fiction.


Lesbianism Made Easy by Helen Eisenbach

A comical and irreverent how-to dating guide for lesbian readers. May appeal to readers coming to terms with their sexuality. May also serve as an educational tool for heterosexual readers interested in learning more about lesbian relationships.

The Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide by Chris Bell

A how-to guide for maintaining healthy and happy long-distance relationships. May appeal to readers currently in a long-distance relationship, readers who are contemplating entering into one or to readers who are interested in the topic.

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant’s Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet by Elliott Hester

A series of humorous anecdotes taken from interviews with modern flight attendants. May appeal to readers who enjoy flying or who are interested in learning more about the “air hospitality” profession.

Name: Brigitte Bell

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

November 9, 2011

Author: Avi Steinberg

Title: Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

Genre: Autobiographies, Biographies, Memoirs, True Crime

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 399

Geographical Setting: Boston

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  After experiencing a crisis of faith, Avi Steinberg abandons his Orthodox Jewish ubringing to attend Harvard. Now graduated, Steinberg is wandering aimlessly though life, barely getting by as a freelance obituary writer. Anxious for a change, he takes a job as a librarian in a Boston prison. In his new job Steinberg encounters an assortment of quirky regulars, some of them searching for the perfect book, some for a shoulder to cry on, and others for a connection to the outside world. Over time, Steinberg is accepted into this community of outcasts. He tells their stories with a unique combination of humor, wit and compassion. Running the Books is an exploration of library and prison culture and an entertaining tale of a young man’s attempt to find his place in the world.

Subject Headings: Communication, Interperonal Relations, Jewish Men, Prison Librarians, Prisoners, Prisons, Writing.

Appeal: Moving, Off-Beat, Reflective, Thought-Provoking, Candid, Witty, Relaxed Pace, Atmospheric, Character-Driven, Issue-Oriented, Funny, Darkly Humorous.

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: Off-Beat, Witty, Thought-Provoking.

Relevant Works and Authors


Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

A memoir exploring the prison world from a female inmate’s perspective. May appeal to readers who enjoy prison memoirs or memoirs written by a female author.

This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

A discussion of the importance of librarians by a true library enthusiast. May appeal to readers who enjoy reading about libraries and library-related issues.

You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish by Jimmy A. Lerner

A prison memoir from the perspective of a “prison fish,” a newcomer to prison life. May appeal to readers who enjoy prison memoirs.


The Borrower: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai

The story of a young librarian and her favorite young patron as they take a road trip together. May appeal to readers who enjoy novels with librarian protaginists.

Everything is Illuminated: A Novel by Jonathan Safram Foer

The story of a young man searching for answers about his past and his family’s history. May appeal to readers who enjoy stories about Jewish heritage.

The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel by Brady Udall

The story of a Mormon man struggling with life and having a crisis of faith. May appeal to readers who enjoy stories about unique lifestyles or issues involving faith and religion.

Created by: Brigitte Bell

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

November 9, 2011

Author: Mary Roach

Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 303

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary, With Some Visits to the Past

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In Stiff: The curious Lives of Human Cadavers, author Mary Roach does the impossible and makes the story of human cadavers humorous. Most people are very uncomfortable discussing what happens to the body after death, and the subject becomes even more difficult when religion is thrown in. Roach approaches the subject with a light-hearted approach and it soon becomes apparent that one needs to keep a sense of humor when it comes to corpses. Roach delves into some history, from the grotesque practices of pre-20th century anatomy labs to the infamous 19th century case of Burke and Hare, who murdered their victims in order to sell the bodies to anatomy labs. Roach looks at modern-day medical school practices when it comes to corpses, which are thankfully handled with much more dignity and with the consent of the deceased. In one particularly colorful chapter, Roach visits the cadaver farm at the University of Tennessee, where decomposing bodies are studied to help advance criminal forensics. Roach also looks at other ways corpses can be useful, including tests to see how humans are affected by car and airplane crashes, and the impact of bullets and bombs on a body. Stiff is really a tribute to the anonymous people who decide that they want their bodies to have a purpose after death, to help save millions of lives, since our bodies will all decompose eventually anyway.

Subject Headings: Cadavers, Human Remains, Death, Human Dissection, Medical Study

Appeal: Relaxed Pace, Lighthearted, Humorous, Macabre, Accessible, Engaging, Detailed, Colloquial, Well-researched, Witty, Educational, Informative

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Humorous, Macabre, Well-researched

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1) The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford. Besides being referenced numerous time in Stiff, readers will enjoy the similar humorous tone of this exposé about the American funeral industry.

2) Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. This book describes in more detail the body farm mentioned in Stiff, narrated in a witty and humorous tone by the doctor who founded the farm.

3) Elephants on Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese. For readers craving more strange scientific experiments like the ones mentioned in Stiff, these short and amusing stories will satisfy their cravings.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales (Oxford World’s Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson. This classic story is evocative of the dark streets of 19th century London, a world in which the murderers and corpse thieves, Burke and Hare, thrived.

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This classic tale of science experimentation gone bad is reminiscent of some of the experiments mentioned in Stiff, such as trying to resuscitate a freshly guillotined head.

3) Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. This book is part of the Temperance Brennan mystery series. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and in this story, goes to a crash site in the North Carolina mountains to identify bodies of the victims, but finds a body that was not on the plane. Readers of Stiff will enjoy this detailed look at the work of a forensic anthropologist.

Name: Elizabeth Allen

A Dark Matter

October 26, 2011

Author: Peter Straub

Title:  A Dark Matter

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Number of Pages:  Audio Edition (I-Pod) 12 parts; 14 hours 33 minutes

Narrator: Robertson Dean

Geographical Setting: Madison, WI and Chicago, IL

Time Period:  1966 and present day

Series (If applicable): A companion work called The Skylark told from the point of view of Spenser Mallon.

Plot Summary: Four High School students fall under the spell of a charismatic wandering guru, Spenser Mallon, and join him in performing a spiritual ritual in the agronomy meadow of the University of Wisconsin.  During this ceremony something supernatural happens, the participants see things and feel things that are indescribable.  The ritual also leaves one kid dead.  That was in 1966.   Several decades later, Lee Harwell is searching for answers as to what happened that fateful day in the meadow.  He was not involved in the ritual, but his three friends were, along with the woman who would become his wife, Lee Traux (The Eel).  Lee Harwell attempts to track down his old friends, Don Olsen (Dilly), Howard Bly (Hootie) and Jason Boatman (Boats), and in doing so each recounts their experience in the meadow, offering many different versions of the same event.  All involved in the ill-fated event were greatly affected in some way or another.  A Dark Matter is a creepy, psychologically suspenseful story that will leave the reader wondering what really happened in the meadow until the last page.

Subject Headings: The sixties; occult ceremonies; supernatural rites, teenagers, good vs. evil; psychic trauma; Bram Stoker Award Winners

Appeal: character-centered, intricately plotted, relaxed pace, bleak, creepy, psychological, supernatural, complex storyline, literary prose, multiple points of view, detailed, foreboding

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-centered, psychological, foreboding

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi – Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Charles Manson murder trial.  His position as an insider has allowed him to give a unique perspective on one of the most notorious killers in American history. Charles Manson was a charismatic “cult” leader.  He lured both men and women into this “family” and he had a baffling hold on his followers.  In 1969 Manson and 4 of his followers carried out several murders of seemingly random victims.  It continues to be one of the most famous crimes and trials in American History.  Chosen as a non-fiction read-alike for A Dark Matter because the charismatic wandering guru Spencer Mallon is similar to Mason, luring young people in with his ideas and personality.

2)     The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Padma Sambhava and translated by Robert Thurman – Said to have been written in the 8th century A.D. by Padma Sambhava who is also said to have been the first person to bring Buddhism to Tibet.  The book is a guide for the dead to guide them through the stages the will encounter between death and their rebirth.  Basically the soul needs guidance once it leaves the physical body and this book is a guide.  It contains prayers and ways the living can assist the dead.  In A Dark Matter the Tibetan Book of the Dead is mentioned on several occasions by the guru Spencer Mallon, so perhaps readers of the novel would enjoy this non-fiction work to learn more.

3)     The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer – John Michael Greer is an “occult practitioner” who consulted scholarly text in order to write a well researched, informative encyclopedia of occult traditions, lore, etc.  Included are 1500 entries listed in alphabetical order and include spiritual movements, magic, alchemy, and astrology.  Chosen as a read-alike for A Dark Matter because the ceremony the teenagers and guru perform in the meadow is an occult ceremony and readers of the novel may appreciate learning more about the occult and all of its aspects.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     I’ll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates – A nameless white girl at a fictional college falls for an African-American grad student in this character-centered work set in the 1960’s.  There is, of course, the racial tension one would expect from an inter-racial relationship at the time.  Along with the social backlash, the girl is also haunted by the fact that someone she once thought was dead is actually alive.  Similar to A Dark Matter in that it is set in the 1960’s and involves college students.  (creepy, psychological suspense, character-centered)

2)     The Revelation by Bentley Little – This creepy story in a small town in Arizona, where events seemingly signal a looming apocalypse.  The church is desecrated, animals are being sacrificed and people are disappearing.  A new Episcopal Priest comes to town and enlists the help of three others as he believes only the four of them can save the town from the evil.  Similar to A Dark Matter this novel has supernatural elements and an underlying theme of good versus evil. (creepy, menacing, supernatural)

3)     Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King – A collection of five short stories that are linked to each other and revolve around events that occurred in the 1960’s.  The Vietnam War is at the forefront of the creepy tales that include some supernatural elements, which makes this story similar to A Dark Matter.  Other similarities include a 1960’s setting and having interweaving stories told by several individuals. (creepy, suspenseful, character-centered)

Name: Michelle Worthington

A Choir of Ill Children

October 24, 2011

Author: Tom Piccirilli

Title: A Choir of Ill Children

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 238

Geographical Setting: Fictional Southern town of Kingdom Come

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: In the backwater Southern swamp town of Kingdom Come, Thomas lives in a run-down mansion with his three brothers — conjoined triplets joined at the forehead who share a single brain, feared as freaks by the rest of the town. Thomas cares for the triplets and runs his family’s mill; his father and grandfather were the town bigwigs, but the town is now so desolate that the family’s standing means little. Kingdom Come is populated by a bizarre cast of characters including “granny witches” who live by the swamp and ward against evil spirits, a preacher prone to speaking in tongues and sudden public nudity, a religious cult, and various other creeps and lowlifes; as the story opens, Thomas is also hosting two documentary filmmakers trying to make a movie about the freakish triplets. As a young girl mysteriously appears in the swamp, the town is besieged by storms, an unknown person begins abusing all the town’s dogs, and the preacher warns that “the carnival is coming,” Thomas must lead his people against the dark forces that seem to be attacking the town.

Subject Headings: Southern Gothic fiction; Horror fiction; Conjoined twins; Small towns; Superstition; Swamps

Appeal: atmospheric, bizarre, character centered, dark, disturbing, edgy, episodic, grotesque, lyrical, moody, mysterious, relaxed pace, sexually explicit, surreal, uneasy, violent

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bizarre, disturbing, uneasyaQQ

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

• One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal by Alice Domurat Dreger [Examines case studies of conjoined twins; argues that they should not necessarily be separated, because their sense of identity is bound up in being conjoined; this is true of the conjoined twins in Piccirilli’s book]

• American Gothic Fiction: An Introduction by Allan Lloyd-Smith [Lit-crit text providing an introduction to the Gothic genre tradition that Piccirilli riffs on in Choir]

• Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture by Anthony Wilson [Overview of the importance of the swamp to Southern culture throughout history and in the present day; the swamp and its significance is a major component of Piccirilli’s novel]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

• Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor [Southern Gothic; dark tone, character-centered, bizarre, disturbing; O’Connor influenced Choir]

• Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque by Joyce Carol Oates [Literary horror; grotesque, atmospheric, dark]

• Softspoken by Lucius Shepard [Horror; contemporary take on Southern Gothic; bizarre family living in run-down mansion; dark, violent]

Name: Brian W.

Butcher’s Crossing

September 28, 2011

Author: John Edward Williams

Title: Butcher’s Crossing

Genre: Western / Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1960

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: Kansas / Colorado

Time Period: 1870s

Plot Summary: Naïve college boy Will Andrews flees his Harvard education for the wide open spaces of the West, where he hopes to find himself. In the Kansas frontier town of Butcher’s Crossing, Andrews hooks up with a hunter named Miller and ends up bankrolling a buffalo hunting expedition to Colorado. Andrews, Miller and the two other men in their crew endure an arduous journey, from survival mode in the wilderness to the ugly process of killing and skinning buffalo. After a point it becomes clear that hunting buffalo is not just an occupation for Miller, but a dangerous obsession—and Andrews is thrown into personal turmoil as his romantic notions of the West and nature are shattered by the grim reality of their journey.

Subject Headings: Western stories; Revisionist westerns; Buffalo hunting; Frontier life; Coming-of-age stories; Man vs. nature

Appeal: austere, cinematic, coming-of-age, descriptive, detailed, evocative, gritty, intense, physical, realistic, relaxed pace, strong sense of place, vivid

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: descriptive, gritty, physical

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Border and the Buffalo by John R. Cook [Memoir by an actual buffalo hunter that gives a detailed, first-hand account of the buffalo slaughter that occurred in the western territories during this time, as well as other descriptions of frontier life]

2) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer [Idealistic young intellectual tries to brave the wilderness]

3) The Buffalo Hunters: The Story of the Hide Men by Mari Sandoz [Densely packed history of plains buffalo hunters]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Morning River by W. Michael Gear [Both a western and a coming-of-age story; about a naïve Harvard idealist who faces gritty hardship in the west; realistic, descriptive, detailed]

2) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy [Revisionist western, also about a massacre (of Indians rather than Buffalo) and the harshness of wilderness; gritty, intense, descriptive; Butcher’s Crossing often cited as precursor to this novel]

3) Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry [Western about an arduous journey; relaxed pace, gritty, descriptive]

Name: Brian W.