Posts Tagged ‘steady’

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

The Color of Water

August 14, 2012

Author:  James McBride

Title:  The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Genre:  Nonfiction, Multicultural, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date:  1996

Number of Pages: 285

Geographical Setting:  Suffolk, Virginia, New York City

Time Period:  1930s-1990s.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”

Growing up, James McBride noticed his mother did not look like him or his eleven brothers and sisters.  She didn’t look like anyone in the New York projects where they lived.  He would repeatedly ask her why she does not look like they do; she’d reply she was light skinned, that was she was a human being and not to worry about it, anything to not talk about it.  None of that matter to her; what mattered was school and church.  As an adult, James persuaded his mother, Ruth to tell her story.  She shared the story of a Jewish girl born in Poland to a Rabbi and her loving mother, immigrating to the United States, and raised in the south.  When she was twenty, she escaped to Harlem, where she married a black man in the 1940s, and converted to Christianity, thereby renouncing her Jewish background and family.  This biographical memoir takes the readers into Ruth’s world, growing up in the 1930’s to the present, while also taking readers into James’s upbringing in Ruth’s household in the 1960s.

Subject Headings:  Racially mixed people – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Mothers – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Whites – New York (State) – New York – Biography, Racially mixed people –Race identity, New York (N.Y.) – Biography.  Family and Relationships – Families.  Biography – Everyday People.  Christianity.  Judaism.

Appeal:  Inspirational, character-driven, heartwarming, thoughtful, leisurely-paced, steady, compassionate, flawed, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, intimate, thoughtful.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Inspirational, character-driven, thoughtful.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black by Gregory Howard Williams.  The author recounts the shocking experience of learning his father’s relatives in Indiana were poor and Black and the resulting prejudice him and his brother experienced from both sides.  Like Color of Water, these two memoirs address a young man’s search for his racial and ethnic identity while growing up with a white mother and an African-American father.

The Color of Love: A Mother’s Choice in Jim Crow South by Gene Cheek.  This memoir presents a story surrounding the year 1963 in during the Jim Crow era, where the author was removed from his mother’s custody because she has a half-mixed baby.  While the exact circumstances differ, both books are moving accounts of the southern United States, racial tension, poverty and the struggle for identity and feeling of belonging.

The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli N. Evans, Willie Morris.  This is a classic portrait of Jews in the South.   Authors Evans and Morris takes readers inside the nexus of southern and Jewish histories.  This book gives the reader a closer look to what it was like to be Jewish in the south, straddling the line between black and white, that Ruth McBride Jordan experienced.

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

Stopping for Green Lights by Alyce Miller.  This coming of age book set in the 1960s is about a cynical young white woman, yearning to fit in with her Black friends, falling in love with a nineteen year old Black man, who teaches her a hard lesson by his betrayal.  This fictional account shares similar subject and appeal terms, like coming of age, racial identity and the sixties, which was part of the back drop in The Color of Water.

Joshua’s Bible by Shelly Leanne. Philadelphia minister Joshua Clay is sent to South Africa, to be the first black minister in years.  He struggles to minister during the apartheid-era 1930s.  This story shares the Christianity tones, racial struggle and adversity during a time period that was featured in The Color of Water.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank. This fictional tale follows observations by Sophie Applebaum of her Jewish Pennsylvania family over the course of twenty years.  This story is a readalike because it features the dynamic of a Jewish family.

Name:  Olivia Button

In the presence of mine enemies

March 28, 2012

Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Genre: Science Fiction (Alternative Histories)

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 454p.

Geographical Setting: Berlin*

Time Period: Present-day (-ish)*

*In the Presence of My Enemies is a work of fictional alternate history wherein Germany has won the 2nd and 3rd World Wars (the 3rd resulting in the nuclear destruction of all significant American cities, and a new capital in Omaha, in case you were wondering about the home team) and has exterminated (to their satisfaction, at least—think slave labor) the world’s population of Slavs, Jews, Blacks, and a plethora of other racial, ethnic, and nationalist groups.  They are cozy with the Japanese Empire.

Series (If applicable): Not yet.

Plot Summary:  A small community of Jews, loosely allied by family and friendship, struggle to raise families, work, continue the Jewish faith, and survive clandestinely in “present day” Berlin as good “Germans” alongside their unknowing, yet legitimately Aryan, German friends and colleagues.  Adding to their many daily trials, the Reich has been hurled into a new and uncertain direction toward “reform” that leaves the Empire, and especially Berlin, in a heightened state of political and national unrest, boldness, and uncertainty, by the appointment of a progressive new Fuhrer and the political emergence of an enigmatic Party rabble-rouser (think Gorbachev and Yeltsin!).

Subject Headings: Nazi Party (Germany), Jews—German, World War 2, 21st century, Jewish families, Middle class families, Secrets, Secret identity, Identity (Psychology), Political upheaval, Political demonstration, Secret police, Police state, Fascism, Adolf Hitler, Revenge, Genetics, Germany—Politics and government, Genocide, Adultery.

Appeal: plot-driven, dark, surreal, steady, bleak, candid, claustrophobic, foreboding, melancholy, menacing atmosphere, paranoid, suspenseful, detailed, authentic, imaginative, intense, tense/anxious, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, political, urban, concise, straightforward, ominous.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: plot-driven, dark, thought-provoking.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

While the suggestion of reading this book might seem as appealing to a reader as stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork, it does merit consideration as Turtledove’s Nazi Empire is wholly dependent on it as both their Constitution and their Bible.  While the plot line of radical reformists calling for adherence to the more democratic-minded first edition of Mein Kampf in order to extend freedoms, liberties, and self-determination to the citizens and conquered nations of the Reich is clever and ironic, the real shivers happen as it becomes clear that Hitler has achieved God-like infallibility and reverence in Turtledove’s nightmare world.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric A. Johnson

Can genocide become an everyday facet of society? Apparently so, the author would argue.  Over 3,000 Germans of the era (Jews and non-Jews, victims and perpetrators) took part in the research for this book.  The conclusion: the average German lived not in fear of the Gestapo or anything else for most of Hitler’s reign, but existed rather comfortably and prosperous.  The estimated 1/3 of Germany that knew of what was happening in the concentration camps, chose to ignore what was going on in their backyards, as well as those citizens that knew of the extermination through rumor.  By the time of Turtledove’s Reich, the extermination of millions (billions?) of people around the globe is viewed simply as historical fact and a privilege of the victors.  This book is a well-deserved kidney punch to German ambiguity and nostalgia when it comes to the pre-War years, as well as to those who think a movement like the Nazis could never threaten the globe again.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan

This book attempts to answer the age-old question of why the Jews didn’t leave Nazi Germany en masse.  The author uses interviews, diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to portray a Jewish population as confused as they were frightened as the Nazis slowly stole freedom and property until they were trapped in a hostile country, completely deprived and isolated.  This book puts the machinations of genocide into motion with enough momentum to be a fully realized institution for the Jewish families in “Presence”, who know fully well any disclosure of their true identities would result in immediate execution.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Legendary and iconic sci-fi author Dick gives his version of a world in which the Germans and Japanese won the 2nd World War.  Almost a companion piece to In the Presence of Mine Enemies in depicting the goings-on on the other side of the globe, Dick portrays a 1960’s United States that is German-Japanese occupied and has reinstated slavery.  What few Jews who survived live hidden under the cloak of assumed identities.  Sound familiar?

1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy

This is another WW2 based alternate history.  The twist here is that instead of surrendering after the dropping of the atomic bombs, military extremists assume control of the nation, vowing never to surrender.  The ensuing U.S. invasion of the home island unleashes death and carnage in apocalyptic proportion.  This is all the more disturbing given the fact that in reality the Emperor being deposed in a coup by hardline generals vowing to fight to the last man, woman, and child was a very real possibility, narrowly escaped.

Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book One by Taylor Anderson.

Again, WW2 is the stepping off point for this first book in an on-going series.  In the heat of battle the bloodies and battered destroyer USS Walker seeks escape from faster, deadlier Japanese boats by heading directly into a massive, otherworldly looking squall.  As the storm subsides, the Captain and colorful crew notice that while geographically things look familiar, everything else in the parallel Earth they find themselves trapped in is very, very different.  In no time at all, Walker is tossed into the middle of a genocidal (and carnivorous) war begun by the Grik (human sized vicious, but mindless, lizards) against the Lemurians (human sized noble and peace-loving lemurs).  As this New Earth is technologically somewhere in the 18th century, the allegiance, modern armament, and know-how of Walker and its crew may prove decisive to the fate of this world.

Name: Bill S.

Heaven Is For Real

August 17, 2011

Author:  Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent

Title:  Heaven Is For Real

Genre:  Spirituality and Religion; Non-Fiction; Inspirational

Publication Date:  Nov. 2010

Number of Pages:  150

Geographical Setting:  Imperial, Nebraska

Time Period:  2004

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  When Colton Burpo was four years old, he underwent surgery to fix a ruptured appendix that had been leaking poison into his small body for five days.  Months after surviving this life-threatening illness, he started to slowly reveal to his parents that he went to Heaven while he was being operated on in the innocent, honest way that only small children can.  By sharing accurate details of people he had never known on Earth but had met in Heaven and describing impossible details of Heaven, Jesus, and God that scripture passages seem to support, his pastor father Todd and his mother Sonja began to believe he had to be telling the truth.  This compelling, inspirational story will make any reader rethink what they previously thought and believed about God and Heaven.

Subject Headings:  Burpo, Colton, 1999- ; Four-year-old boys – Nebraska – Biography; Heaven (Christianity); Near-death experience – Religious aspects – Christianity; Christian life – Nebraska; Eschatology, Christian

Appeal:  Compelling, steady, gentle, heartwarming, moving, unpretentious, insightful, inspirational, thought-provoking, small-town, accessible, conversational, simple

3 terms that best describe this book:  Compelling, inspirational, accessible

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

–       Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry – This is also a story from the spirituality and religion genre with a similar inspirational tone.

–       Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experience by Jeffrey Long, M.D. – This compilation of research and experiences from the Near Death Experience Research Foundation could be an interesting choice for readers that want to learn about more near-death experiences and other evidence of an after-life.  Similar to Heaven is for Real, this book is also in the spirituality and religion genre.

–       90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life by Don Piper – This story is also in the spirituality and religion genre with an inspirational tone and conversational writing style.  It’s another account of a person’s experience in Heaven while they were pronounced dead after a car accident but miraculously came back to life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

–       The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – This title has a similarly inspirational tone.

–       The Noticer: Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective by Andy Andrews – This book has a similarly inspirational and moving tone and is set in a small town.

–       The Locket by Richard Paul Evans – This book has a similarly inspirational and heartwarming tone.

Name: Julie

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

August 8, 2011

Author:  Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Title:  Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

Publication Date:2006

Pages:  331

Genre:  Non-fiction

Geographical Setting:  Pakistan

Time Period:  1993-2003

Subject Headings:  Greg Mortenson, Pakistan, K2, Korphe Pakistan, Pakistan Schools, Muslims Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia Institute

Appeal: steady, contemplative, moving, detailed, lifelike, complex, layered, flashbacks, political, informal, unusual, character-centered, (meandering)

Plot Summary: Professional mountain climber Greg Mortenson, tackles Pakistan’s K2 mountain in an effort to bury his deceased sister’s necklace.  Failure to do so takes him on a journey to a remote Pakistani village, where he discovers exceptionally poor conditions and lack of education for the children.   This  experience launches his lifetime commitment to building schools in various remote villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, making unusual friendships and enemies along the way.

Three terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, political, unusual, (meandering)

Similar authors and fiction works:

Murder on Everest by Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins

Murder mystery about the death of a multi-millionaire’s son as he attempts to climb Mt. Everest.  fast-paced, details of mountain climbing, dangerous

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

A memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Graphic Novel.  builds in intensity, dangerous, family-centered

Christy by Catherine Marshall

A young woman moves away from her life of privilege in order to teach the children of an impoverished community in the Smoky Mountains. detailed setting, character-centered, disturbing

Similar authors and non-fiction works:

Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz

This book is a coming of age memoir written by Ali Eteraz, who was born in Pakistan and raised in the United States by the age of 10.  He struggles with his religious upbringing versus western way of life.  introspective, informative, authentic

Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell

Esme Raji Codell is a first year teacher working in an inner city school.  This is a diary account of the obstacles she faces including non-supportive administrators, abusive parents and angry students.  candid, authentic, humorous

K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts

Harrowing true stories about six expeditions attempting to climb the second highest mountain in the world. dramatic, compelling, informative

Name:  Debbie

Gun Man

July 23, 2011

Author: Loren D. Estleman

Title: Gun Man

Genre: Western/Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1985

Number of Pages: 210

Geographical Setting: The Western American Frontier; especially Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado

Time Period: 1842-1880

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: When 12 year old Eugene Mortimer takes to the Western Frontier, he enters the world as a vulnerable young boy seeking an identity and a purpose. Eugene finds this through the power of an expert gunshot, embracing a new persona as John “Killer” Miller. As John Miller, the young protagonist becomes a notorious gunfighter and outlaw who roams the West lending his skills to serve both sides of justice. Estleman’s compelling novel exemplifies Western fiction characterized by vivid and detailed settings, realistic and powerful dialog, and plenty of violent action. Unlike many examples of Western fiction, however, Estleman’s work offers a thought-provoking and balanced examination of Western justice that is rooted in historical fact.

Subject Headings: Western (US), Outlaws, Gunfights, Lawmen, Pioneer and Frontier Life, Missouri Frontier, Men, Family-Relations, Alcholism, Poverty

Appeal: Compelling, Steady, Gritty, Nostalgic, Realistic, Engaging, Violent, Thought-provoking, Detailed setting, Historical details, Well-researched, Dialogue, Jargon, Accessible

Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Detailed-setting, Gritty, Historical Details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Leon Claire Metz, The Shooters (This work details the lives of the most notorious gunfighters of the American West. It adds a human element to these violent outlaws and lawmen, revealing the transformation of young men from innocent to dangerous)

Joseph G. Rosa, Wild Bill Hickok, Gunfighter (This biography is framed within the same setting and time  period as Gun Man. It is detailed, compelling, gritty, and violent. It revolves around lawmen, outlaws, and gunfights)

T.J. Stiles, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War (Biography takes place from 1847-1882. Involves a robber, outlaw, and gunfighter. Employs historical detail, a strong sense of place, and a balanced viewpoint toward Western law)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Louis L’Amour, To Tame a Land (Novel revolves around gunfighter in the West, takes place in the 19th century, and is thought-provoking when dealing with the vague notion of justice in the West)

Johnny D. Boggs, Killstraight (This novels contains a detailed setting, historical details, and offers complexity to the Western genre. Like Gun Man, the novel presents a balanced approach toward discussing Western justice and relations between Whites and Indians)

Larry McMurty, The Wandering Hill (This novel offers a detailed-setting, a strong sense of place, and takes place in the same geographical setting. Its writing style appears gritty and descriptive. The novel is a coming-of-age story with a strong family dynamic)

Name: Dan Thorson

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

April 13, 2011

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Title: The Night Bookmobile

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 40 pages

Geographical Setting: Chicago, Illinois

Time Period: 1980-2004

Plot Summary: After a fight with her then-boyfriend, Lexi walks the streets of Chicago (specifically Ravenswood Avenue and Belle Plaine) trying to cool down.  Suddenly, she sees a battered Winnebago playing a Bob Marley tune she knows.  She approaches and finds that this is a Bookmobile.  But, this is not any bookmobile; it’s one that is full of every single thing that Lexi has read in her entire life.  It’s run by a man named Robert, a gentleman who serves her tea and doesn’t bother her as she uses the library for its entire hour of operation (from dusk until dawn).  The bookmobile doesn’t show up with any regular schedule; it shows up at different places in different times over the years.  Lexi is the only one who can see it.  She obsessively waits for the moments when she can interact with the bookmobile again.  She reads and reads in order to get back to it.  Lexi, through all of this reading, rediscovers her love for books and literacy and becomes a librarian. As time goes on, Alexandra decides she wants to work on the bookmobile…even after learning the high cost that comes with the job.

Subject Headings: Bookmobile, Books, Collecting, Chicago, Graphic Novel, Art

Appeal: Intimate, Accessible, Candid, Dramatic, Simple, Unembellished, Eccentric Characters, Accurate Setting, Thought-Provoking, Spare Linguistically, Steady, Surprising, Melancholy

3 terms that best describe this book: Artful (both in storytelling and illustration), Evolutionary, Emotional

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Insomnia by M. K. Perker: A graphic novel that chronicles the misgivings of a rare book expert.

The Uncommon Reader by Allan Bennett: Features a bookmobile in a more amusing light.

Filthy Rich by Brian Azzarello: A graphic novel that, though it’s on a different topic, reflects Bookmobile’s melancholy tone.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater: A woman who has a complex obsession takes readers into her mind to explore a constantly restless conciousness.

Ex libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman: This collection of essays discusses the central importance of books and reading in someone’s life.

The New Woman as Librarian: The Career of Adelaide Hasse by Clare Beck: This is the story of what one controversial woman suffered through in order to achieve her career goal of becoming a librarian.


June 23, 2010

Author: Sapphire

Title: Push

Genre: African-American Fiction

Publication Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 140 and 37 unnumbered pages

Geographical Setting: Harlem, New York City, New York

Time Period: 1991

Series: Not applicable

Plot Summary: Sixteen-year-old Claireece Precious Jones, who is pregnant with her second child after being raped by her father, yearns to escape the horrific home she shares with her abusive mother. Her first child, Mongo, born with Down’s Syndrome and other special needs, is in the care of her grandmother. Precious begins attending an alternative school after being asked to leave her previous school for threatening the principal. Although she is extremely low literate, Precious enjoys learning and dreams that she will be able to escape her mother and father through education. Her new teacher, Blue Rain, pushes Precious to write down her feelings and experiences in a journal. As Precious gains confidence in herself through her new friendships with other students and Ms. Rain, as well as her improved reading and writing skills, she is finally able to stand up to her mother and provide for her new son, Abdul. When Precious’ mother reappears with a horrifying secret that will forever change her life, Precious must use her newfound courage to continue her education and reach her goal of independence for Abdul. This book contains graphic language and sexually explicit descriptions that may offend some readers.

Subject Headings: Sixteen-year-old-girls – New York City; Incest; African-American teenage mothers; Incest victims’ mothers; Teacher-student relationships – New York City; African-Americans – New York City; Incest victims’ families; Single African-American mothers; Child abuse victims – New York City; Street life; New York City; African-American fiction – 20th century; Radical fiction; Urban fiction – 20th century

Appeal: steady, engrossing, hard-edged, moody, dramatic, well-drawn characters, strong language, character-centered, accurate setting, urban, dialect, and straightforward

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: hard-edged, urban, and character-centered

Similar Authors and Works:


  • The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care by Nina Berstein: An in-depth look at a thirteen-year-old abused child’s struggle against the foster care system that failed to keep her and her son safe; New York City setting
  • Mama’s girl by Veronica Chambers: An African-American girl growing up in an abusive home in New York City; hard-edged; character-centered
  • Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses by Paula McLain: An account of the author’s experiences growing up in foster care with her two sisters; straightforward; character-centered


  • Kendra by Coe Booth: A young African-American girl struggles with her mother’s abandonment as she is raised by her grandmother; hard-edged; urban setting; straightforward
  • Imani All Mine by Connie Porter: A young African-American teenage mother who was the victim of rape works hard to care for her baby while attending school; urban setting and dialect; frank storyline
  • Autobiography of a Family Photo by Jacqueline Woodson: The story of an African-American family living in Brooklyn in the 1970’s; character-centered; steady pacing

Name: Rebecca Dorsey


June 14, 2010


Author: Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight (book 1)

Genre: horror / romance / paranormal romance

Publication Date: 2005

Plot Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Bella can tell that she is a burden. She is dramatic, yes, but there is a hint of truth to her complaints. Her stepfather is a baseball player who frequently travels, which makes caring for Bella and switching her around schools all the harder. Her mom also does not want to leave Bella alone. Bella’s best friend is her mother, yet she sacrifices herself to the horridly boring town of Forks, Washington, where her father lives, so her mother can be happy with her new husband.

Bella expects to be the outsider yet again, in this small town setting. But, when she steps foot at her new high school, she already has three guys vying for her attention. Of course, she complains about this too, as she does not like them like that, but thinks they’d make good friends if only they’d stop hitting on her. Her new girl friends completely agree, as they need their share of dates too, and it’s slim pickings in Forks. It is the guy that is seemingly out of reach, edgy, Edward Cullens who sits alone with his odd family staring off into space during lunch, and not eating lunch for that matter, that attracts Bella. Obviously, he is the best looking guy in school, but who would have guessed that it was because he’s a vampire?

Bella falls desperately in love with Edward. But, this may be a good thing, as Bella is extremely klutzy and has a knack for falling into trouble. Edward is there to save her every time. Who is this boy really?  Why does he always show up to save her just in the knick of time? Is he a danger to her or not? Why are the Cullens forbidden from being on Native American territory?

When Bella finds the answers to these questions, it’s too late. She says, “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Seconds, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” It’s all uphill from there, in this suspenseful story, as Edward isn’t the only vampire who likes Bella’s blood. There’s one more that doesn’t exactly agree with the no-human-eating treaty the Cullens have. Can Edward save her this time?

Subject Headings: Vampires—Fiction, High schools–Fiction

Appeals: steady, bleak, dangerous, dramatic, edgy, emotionally-charged, moody, psychological, romantic, sensual, suspenseful, engaging, series (characters), well-developed, small-town, conversational, passionate

3 words to describe book: romantic, paranormal, dramatic

Read a likes:


The Illustrated Dracula – Bram Stoker

The original classic with forty gothic-style illustrations. This is a must for the classical background of the vampire culture.

Be Mine Tonight – Kathryn Smith

This pits the Holy Grail and the Cup of Damnation against each other. Chapel has been a vampire for six centuries, lonely, after making a bad decision that led to his situation. Then he meets Prudence, a girl he falls in love with. But, the woman is dying and wants the Holy Grail instead. How will they get what they want and what they need? This is a rather lusty version of Twilight.

Crimson City – Liz Maverick

This is another love story, but between a human woman and a protector. They live in Los Angeles where the protector keeps the humans, werewolves and vampires from coming into conflict with each other.


Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion, and Romantic Obsession – Rosemary Sullivan

Studies how women’s romantic love perceptions are made. The book looks at all types of media and anecdotes. Meant to show “why intelligent women fall in love with the wrong man.” Twilight would be an example of this type of literature that builds perceptions of love through aggressive relationships.

Twilight and Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians, and the Pursuit of Immortality – John Wiley & Sons

Philosophy and how it is structured when it includes vampires as a true entity. This book is interesting to see how Twilight and its contents can fit into some people’s belief systems.

The New Vampire’s Handbook: a Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the Night – Villard Books

The series of handbooks are a new popular got-to-have for fans of paranormal fiction. This satirical and parody of handbooks helps new vampires out in the world they are not accustomed to yet, “such topics as faking one’s way through a human meal, sleeping in coffins, and caring for mortal slaves.”

The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool

June 7, 2010

Author: Richard Yancey

Title: The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 261

Geographical Setting: Knoxville, Tennessee and Tybee Island, Georgia

Time Period: Current

Series: The Highly Effective Detective Series, number 3

Plot Summary: The beautiful Katrina Bates hires unlicensed private investigator, Teddy Ruzak, to provide proof that her husband of twenty years, Tom, is having an affair. Katrina soon fires Teddy, after he calls and confronts Tom about his cheating ways, instead of secretly following him. As Teddy struggles to keep his PI company open, even though he has failed the state of Tennessee’s licensing exam three times, he discovers that Katrina Bates is missing. Katrina’s soon to be ex-husband insists that she has a pattern of running away for weeks at a time, but Teddy isn’t sure that he should trust Tom. When Katrina’s long-estranged father gives Teddy a puzzling key, he is certain he has a mystery on his hands. Teddy’s eccentric dialog and observations will keep readers laughing through this compelling mystery.

Subject Headings: Extramarital relations; missing persons; husband and wife; detectives; Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; mystery stories; humorous stories

Appeal: compelling, steady, humorous, suspenseful, quirky, well-drawn characters, investigative, character- centered, contemporary, details of Knoxville, Tennessee, smart dialect, and  concise

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: humorous, quirky characters, and smart dialect

Similar Authors and Works:


  • The Bug in the Martini Olive: And Other True Cases from the Files of Hal Lipset, Private Eye by Patricia Holt: A retelling of cases solved by Hal Lipset, one of the most well-known private investigators in America, collected by a former employee; investigative stories
  • Spygirl: True Adventures From My Life as a Private Eye by Amy Gray: Chronicles Gray’s career change from a publishing assistant to a private investigator in New York City; encounters with quirky people during her investigations; humor
  • The Detectives: Their Toughest Cases in Their Own Words by Peter A. Micheels: True stories from New York City detectives; investigative stories


  • Drop Dead, My Lovely by Ellis Weiner: Part of a mystery series; humorous, investigative story of a new PI
  • Fletch by Gregory McDonald: Part of a mystery series; unorthodox methods for solving mysteries; humorous and quirky characters
  • Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich: Part of a mystery series; humorous crime solving; mystery about a missing person; heavy dialog

Name: Rebecca Dorsey