Posts Tagged ‘sensual’

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

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

CBGB OMFUG

April 18, 2012

Author: Various (22 authors and illustrators collaborate for 9 vignettes)

Title: CBGB OMFUG

Genre: Graphic novel

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 112p

Geographical Setting: New York City (the Bowery)

Time Period: 1970’s, present day, the future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary:  Through nine separate vignettes, the history and lore of the legendary, mythical, pivotal, incredibly dirty, and defunct Lower East Side punk rock club is examined and explained.  CBGB’s was ground zero for the mid-70’s NYC punk rock scene.  Artists that would emerge from CBGB’s include Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, as well as lesser-known, yet highly influential acts, such as Television, the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators. Varying in time period, some of the stories use the club as a main character, while others use it merely as a backdrop or meeting place.  The common theme running throughout the book is that of CBGB’s as a fertile haven for inspiration, community, discovery, expression, freedom, individuality, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Subject Headings: Punk rock music, New York City—nightclubs, 1970’s, Artists, Drugs and alcohol, Rebellion, Nostalgia, Nonconformity, Antisocial behavior, Self discovery, Youth, Fandom.

Appeal:  Breakneck, fast-paced, relentless, atmospheric, edgy, flamboyant, gritty, hard-edged, humorous, impassioned, magical, idealized, romanticized, nostalgic, sarcastic, sensual, artsy, bohemian, punk, vivid, inspirational, mythic, sexually explicit, strong language, urban, colorful, informal, passionate, witty, hedonistic, rebellious, reflective, street-smart, rowdy, energetic, fun, aggressive, joyous, enigmatic, self-aggrandizing, loud.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Energetic, passionate, enigmatic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Please Kill Me: the Uncensored History of Punk edited by Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain

This is an oral history of the New York punk scene from its infancy in the early 1970’s to its slow death in the early 1980’s strung together by interviews with the people who were there and making things happen.  The people who are still alive, anyway.  Interviewees (many of whom are portrayed in CBGB) include Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and members of the Ramones, the Stooges, New York Dolls, Television, Blondie and many more artists and other scenesters.  This is a great read for fans of ribald accounts of debauchery and degeneracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle For the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler

In the 1970’s, large Northern cities found themselves broke, decaying, crime-ridden, and desperate.  None had it worse than New York.  The tumultuous year of 1977 is examined here; a year that included Son of Sam, the Blackout, punk rock, Studio 54 and disco, and ruthless political battles.  What is the conduit Mahler uses to examine and piece these events together?  — the World Series winning Yankees, of course.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes

Sure, New York had the punk thing happening in the mid-1970’s, but during those years the city also witnessed the birth of hip-hop, disco, and salsa as well as playing host to fertile jazz and avant-garde/minimalist music scenes.  Here is an examination of those years, where the music seemed to get better as the urban blight grew worse.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

My Brain Hurts: Vol. One by Liz Baille

This graphic novel series chronicles a group of gay,teenage New York punks making out, drinking beer, getting arrested, and flexing their gay activism muscles.  I include this as there was no mention in CBGB as to how entangled the NYC punk scene was with the seedier side of gay culture on Manhattan at the time (many a near destitute musician made rent by moonlighting as “chickens”, as in a homosexual prostitute who may not necessarily be gay but will do x for money.  Dee Dee Ramone has talked extensively about this topic [see: ‘53rd and 3rd by the Ramones], as well as others).

What We Do Is Secret by Kief Hillbery

Hollywood 13-year-old punk and gay hustler Rockets Redglare must come to terms with the suicide of his idol/guru Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (circa 1980).  This book is the closest equivalent to the seediness and nihilism that personified the L.A. punk scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s (as far as fiction goes.)

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

While this book is the farthest thing from the seediness that CBGB and the Lower Eastside personified, it is an excellent portrait of the feeling of freedom, possibility, and wonder that a night out in the big city can give a person as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and independence.  Even for rich kids from New Jersey.

Name: Bill

The Boys on the Rock

April 11, 2012

Author: John Fox

Title: The Boys on the Rock

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 146p.

Geographical Setting: Bronx, N.Y.

Time Period: 1968

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: It’s 1968 in the Bronx and Catholic High School sophomore, swim team star, and narrator Billy Connor is gay and knows it and likes it.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to explore his sexuality in very frequent, detailed, creative, and enthusiastic masturbation sessions that the reader will come to know very well.  Billy, not wanting to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, is a Gene McCarthy supporter who meets Al, the head of the local McCarthy campaign office.  Canvassing soon leads to lingering dinners at a pizzeria, which leads to making out, which of course leads to the sex that Billy has longed for.  Billy is very talented in graphic and detailed accounts of his and Al’s lovemaking, leaving not a thing to the reader’s imagination.  While Billy feels newly free and empowered by his relationship with Al, is it really love?  And is it a love that will last?  With the tumultuous Democratic presidential primary and a colorful cast of neighborhood friends and eccentrics as a constant backdrop, Billy brings the reader along for the first few baby steps he will take onto the path that will lead him to the man he will become.

Subject Headings: Coming of age stories, Gay teenagers, Eroticism, U.S. history–1968, Presidential elections–1968, First love, Homosexuality, Graphic sex–homosexual, Graphic sex–heterosexual, Political assassination, Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Bronx, Competitive swimming, Catholic school, Homophobia, Nostalgia, Masturbation.

Appeal: Quick-paced, bittersweet, candid, passionate, adolescent, horny, dramatic, edgy, sexual, graphic, gritty, impassioned, nostalgic, naive, sensual, romantic, unpretentious, foul-mouthed, colorful, unrelenting, rebellious, melancholy, vivid, sexually explicit, steamy, issue-oriented, introspective, retrospective, political, historical detail, urban, colloquial, dialect, direct, unaffected, hormonal, empowering, gay, sweaty, messy, intimate, personal discovery, sexual discovery.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: adolescent, gritty, sexually explicit.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano

The Joy of Lesbian Sex: A Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle by Dr. Emily L. Sisley and Bertha Harris

Yes, I know three books are not one book, but I feel I must evoke an “apples and oranges” (and “pears”[?]) exception in this case.  For people that may find appeal in any of these works, two titles will be completely useless (sort of) to them.  And the goal is to be able to satisfy 100% of readers, yes?

There is so much graphic sex and language in Boys that it would seem almost impossible that a reader wouldn’t take some stock of their own romantic life at some point.  These seminal, highly respected, and somewhat clinical works are certainly the “safe” and “tasteful” (yet graphically illustrated) suggestions that could be a stepping off point for a reader who may want to explore better or newer ways in which to get their freak on.

Time 1968: War Abroad, Riots at Home, Fallen Leaders and Lunar Dreams

The United States +1968= CRAZY: MLK shot, RFK shot, protests, race riots, political riots, cities on fire, Vietnam, Tet Offensive, Chicago Democratic Convention (police beatings and rioting and the MC5, for those too young), drugs, sex, rock and roll, men on the moon—and those are just the headlines.

While the rebellion, protest, and awakening of Billy’s 1968 took place mostly in his head and underwear, there is much happening around him that will inform a bevvy of decisions, political and not.  Here is an overview of that year with lots of color pictures.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

One year later from Billy’s awakening, the gay community of Greenwich Village rose up against police harassment to spark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  I can vividly picture Billy chanting slogans and punching cops in the face.  Here is a timeline of the events leading up to, and the riots themselves, as well as the aftermath.  This comprehensive account is the result of hundreds of interviews, public and sealed files, and a decade of research.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Forever by Judy Blume

If one took a plot synopsis of Boys and replaced the Bronx with a woodsy, well-to-do suburb, and weekends of beer in the park with ski trips, and animalistic gay sex with meticulously thought-out hetero sex, and Billy with a Katherine, and a cowardly Al with an impossibly sensitive Michael and then washed everyone’s mouths out with soap, one would be left holding a copy of Forever. Had those who have taken the often challenged Forever (ALA 7th all-time) to trial had known that Boys may have been right around the corner, I shudder to think at the number of libraries that may have burned.  While certainly trying to please entirely different audiences, these two books are identical thematically, giving Forever large appeal to the reader who may have picked up Boys hoping for a sentimental tale of teenage sexual awakening, but just not as sticky.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Luckily for the high-school kids that populate Boy Meets Boy, Levithan has created a bizarro-world town where there is no prejudice of any sort, especially sexual.  This bodes well for a school that features a Harley riding cheerleading squad and a cross-dressing star quarterback/Homecoming Queen.  The book centers on Paul, who thinks he finally may have found true love in Noah.  Simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, Levithan brilliantly illustrates that freed of the burden of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance these are just kids, whatever their sexual orientation, awkwardly trying to find their place in the world and maybe a little happiness, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 by D.L. King, Giselle Renarde, Kathleen Warnock and Kirsty Logan

Best Gay Erotica 2011 by Johnny Murdoc, Natty Soltesz, and Rob Wolfsham

Sweet Confessions: Erotic Fantasies for Couples by Violet Blue

Again, I must use the “apples and oranges” rule exception.  For any reader of Boys that enjoyed the very detailed and descriptive sex scenes, here you go: a little something for everyone.

Name: Bill S.

Vision in White

April 4, 2012

Author:  Nora Roberts

Title:  Vision in White

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  325

Geographical Setting:  Connecticut

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:  Bride Quartet

Plot Summary:   Mac is the photographer in a successful wedding planning business that she runs with her three best friends.  Her days are not only filled with photo shoots, development, and constant meetings, but also the drama that comes along with weddings.  On one of her photo shoots, she meets Carter, the brother of the bride, and together they must overcome several challenges in their budding relationship.   This lighthearted romance with realistic, well-developed characters will warm your heart.

Subject Headings:  Weddings, Wedding Photographers, Wedding Planners, Friendships, Mother/daughter relationships, Teachers, Romantic Relationships

Appeal:  Romantic, Lighthearted, Sensual, Series characters, Well-developed, Character-centered, Steamy, Realistic, Heartwarming, Strong secondary characters, Humorous, Contemporary

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Romantic, Character-driven, Heartwarming

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer:  A Memoir by Claire Lewis- Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer describes the author’s experiences as a wedding photographer.  Readers that are interested in Mac’s profession will enjoy Exposed:  Confessions of a Wedding Photographer.

I Know Just What You Mean:  The Power of Friendship in Women’s Lives by Ellen Goodman- I Know Just What You Mean explores the value of female friendships.  I Know Just What You Mean will appeal to readers who enjoyed the special bond between Mac and her best friends.

One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead- One Perfect Day examines the wedding industry and common complications that wedding planners face.  One Perfect Day and Vision in White both have weddings and wedding planners as a subject. 

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Once Smitten, Twice Shy (Wedding Veil Wishes, 2) by Lori Wilde- When her wedding videography business begins to fail, Trish makes a wish on her best friend’s magical wedding veil to get out of debt. Like Vision in White, Once Smitten, Twice Shy is a character-driven, heartwarming contemporary romance that deals with the wedding industry.

What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips- Actress Georgie York must deal with the complications of a failing career, a failed marriage, and the reappearance of her former sexy costar.  Both What I Did for Love and Vision in White are steamy, humorous contemporary romances.

Wild Man Creek (Virgin River, 14) by Robyn Carr- Colin Riordin and Jillian Matlock make a connection in the small town of Virgin River while trying to escape the complications of their stressful lives. Like Vision in White, Wild Man Creek is a character-driven contemporary romance.

Elissa

 

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

Poem Strip

April 13, 2011

Author: Dino Buzzati

Title: Poem Strip

Genre: Graphic Novel; Mythology

Publication Date: Italian-1969; English-2009

Number of Pages: 218

Geographical Setting: Milan, Italy

Time Period: 1969

Plot Summary: In Milan, on via Saterna, a strange street that doesn’t exist on any map, a young guitarist named Orfi performs at the Polypus Club.  After seeing his lover, Eura, disappear through a mysterious door.  Determined to find her, Orfi enters the world of the Afterlife with the permission of a Guardian Demon. Orfi must sing to the dead his songs of the beloved mysteries of the flesh: songs of death, lust, and love. He is given only a short period of time to find Eura and return her to the living world, but the temptations of the Afterlife may be too much to resist.  This is Buzzatti’s adaption of the Greek myth of Orpheus’ descent to the underworld to save his wife Eurydice.

Subject Headings: Afterlife; Orpheus; Eurydice; Italian Fiction; Graphic Novels-Italy; Psychedelic; Mythology-Greek

Appeal: Atmospheric, dark, haunting, psychological, romantic, sensual, introspective, cinematic, episodic, sexually explicit, mythic, literary references, tragic, urban, poetic, lyric, metaphoric

3 terms that best describe this Graphic Novel: Mythic, Sensual, Haunting

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James: The similar surrealistic illustrations that cover entire pages are reminiscent of Buzzati’s work.

The Grand Inquisitor Trickster written by John Zmirak and illustrated by Carla Millar: A strange, gothic adaptation of Dostoevsky’s fable of the same name written in blank verse.

It Rhymes with Lust by Arnold Drake, Leslie Walker, and Matt Baker: This proto-graphical novel, or picture novel, is another gothic noir romance.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Orpheus and Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence by Gregory Orr: An in-depth look at myth of Orpheus and Eurydice that Buzzati’s work is based on.

The New Avant-Garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Principles by John Picchione: A look into the literary movement that inspired the work of Buzzati.

Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke: Rilke’s collection of poems are all on the theme of Orpheus and his descent to the underworld, a common literary device that was Buzzati’s inspiration.

-Mike Monahan

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

April 6, 2011

Brava, Valentine

Author: Adriana Trigiani
Title: Brava, Valentine
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships, Gentle Reads
Publication Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 332
Geographical Setting: New York City
Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: In Adriana Trigianai’s second novel in the Very Valentine series, Brava, Valentine further expands on the love stories, family dramas began in the first, and adds new twists and passions that make up the life of main character Valentine Rancalli.  The novel opens with the wedding of Valentine’s beloved grandmother and fellow custom shoemaker, Teodora.  Valentine is then faced with changes to her life and her business.  Throughout the story, Valentine further discovers her passion for custom shoemaking and past love Gianluca.  She takes on a new avenue in expanding her business, and expanding her heart in her long-distance romance with Gianluca.  Of course, her family dynamics and relationships take center stage as they weave in and out of the novel, with an entertaining and hilarious scene at Thanksgiving, and as we learn more about her brother Alfred, who is now her business partner.  Change and self-discovery are prevalent for Valentine as she learns not only about her family, her love, but also herself.  A well-developed story leaves an ending without lose ends, but with anticipation for what happens next.

Subject Headings: Family relationships, Family businesses, Italian Americans, Weddings, Long-distance romance, Grandmothers, Sibling rivalry, Businesswomen, Dating, Mentors, Female friendship, Relationships, Transformations, Past loves, Power struggles, Brothers and sisters, Family secrets, Scandal, Self-discovery; New York, Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.), Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, Argentina; 2000s, 21st century; Fiction Romance, Contemporary, Domestic Saga Family; Italian American, Grandmother, Newlywed Italian; Businesswoman, Artist, Businessman, Financier

Appeal: romantic, love story, career woman, friendships, custom shoemakers, lush, passionate professional, Italian-Americans, family relationships, change, acceptance, self-discovery, New York City, Greenwich Village, Buenos Aires, fast paced, humorous, emotionally charged, sophisticated, sensual, family businesses, stylish, glamorous, down-to-earth characters, series novel, bestselling author

3 terms that best describe this book: family relationships, Italian-American experiences, passionate female businesswoman

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The World in a City: traveling the globe through the neighborhoods of the new New York by Joseph Berger is a nonfiction books for people who want to learn more about New York City, it’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods and constant change in people, culture, cuisine and sights.

Marcella Amarcord Remembers: the story of a woman who started out to teach science in a small town in Italy, but ended up teaching America how to cook Italian by Marcella Hazan traces the life story of the best-selling cookbook author from her childhood in a quiet Adriatic Sea fishing town and her family’s struggles through World War II to her marriage and her work as a cooking instructor.

Coffee With Nonna: The Best Stories of My Catholic Grandmother by Vincent M. Iezzi; The author complies stories his nonna shared with him while he was a child during World War II in his Philadelphia neighborhood.  Other readers describe this as heartwarming and precious.  Found this book using Amazon “What other customers bought.”

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Fair Play by Deirdre Martin is the second in the New York Blades series.  Each novel is about a different woman hired to “take charge” of a problem surrounding one of the New York Blades’ players.  This novel is about PR maven Theresa Falconetti, hired by Michael Dante, the winger for the New York Blades, to publicize his family’s restaurant.  A romance ensues between Michael and Theresa, yet Theresa is torn as she tries to stick to her ‘no hockey players’ rule.

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge is the story of Mira Serafino, a woman who recently discovered her husband was having an affair.  She decides to change her life, moves to Seattle, and takes a new job, all while keeping the news about her marriage from her large Italian family.

Love and Meatballs by Susan Volland is the story of thirty-something Jo Cerbone who is struggling to keep her Italian-American family’s restaurant running.  She finds herself in the midst of a romance between two men, and in the midst of learning more about what she really wants to do with her life.

-Jennifer Peterson

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

March 15, 2011

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Author:  Jonathan Safran Foer

Title:  Everything Is Illuminated

Genre:  Literary Fiction

Publication Date:  2003

Number of Pages:  276

Geographical Setting:  the Ukraine

Time Period:  1791 through 1990s

Plot Summary:  This book is not just one story.  It is several stories layered together that all fit by the novel’s end.  In short, Jonathan Safran Foer travels to the Ukraine to find a woman who knew his lost grandfather based on the caption on the back of a photo.  Once there, he is guided by Ukrainian contemporary Alex, Alex’s little brother, their “blind” grandfather, and a dog named Sammy Davis Junior, Junior.  Alex is the novel’s primary narrator and we learn about him through letters to Safran Foer.  Interspersed throughout these letters are chapters from Safran Foer’s lyrical novel about inhabitants of a small Jewish town in the Ukraine.

Subject Headings:  World War Two, hidden Jews, the Ukraine, the Holocaust, Jewish Americans

Appeal:  magical, multiple points of view, humorous, romantic, melancholy, moving, intriguing, sensual, imaginative, richly drawn, imaginative, lyrical

3 terms that best describe this book:  creative, richly drawn, moving

Similar Authors and Works:
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Max and Helen: A Remarkable True Love Story by Simon Wiesenthal- A true story of lovers separated by the World War Two and their journey back together.
  2. Ukraine, Culture Shock! A Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Meredith Dalton– This travel guide aims to inform you about the customs and people of the Ukraine rather than simply the sites and attractions.
  3. Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories by Miriam Weiner- A book for those also searching for their family history from this region.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. A History of Love by Nicole Krauss- Written by Safran Foer’s wife, the novels share both the thematic focus of the Holocaust and a lyrical, unusual style.
  2. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain- Short stories that use humor and prose to describe life in other countries.
  3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera- A novel about passion and politics and choices that you have to make in life.

Name:  Laura Melton