Posts Tagged ‘straightforward’

Bossypants

November 7, 2012

Bossypants book coverTitle: Bossypants

Author: Fey, Tina

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 272

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Chicago, New York

Time Period: 1970’s to Current Times

Plot Summary: With this hilarious and engaging autobiography, Tina Fey can add clever writer to her list of accomplishments.  Bossypants tells the story of Fey’s life along with her personal advice and general thoughts.   It tells the story of her awkward upbringing in Pennsylvania before moving on to her embarrassing college/theater years as well as her time with Second City, SNL and then her current role as creator and star of 30 Rock.  Fey’s road to success is told in a straightforward manner while also remaining humorous.  There are stories about the people she has worked with through improv and television shows, and she shares intimate stories without being too gossipy.  She shares personal essays on topics such as motherhood and the treatment of women in charge.  Her conversational style pulls the reader in, and you might find yourself wishing you could hang out with her.  Tina Fey manages to be self-deprecating while remaining endearing and it is a fast read.  A great read for those seeking a witty, lighthearted and fun memoir.  Readers who enjoyed her style might want to check out the audiobook version of this autobiography, which Tina Fey herself narrates skillfully.

Subject Headings:  American wit and humor, Women comedians, Women television personalities, Fey, Tina 1970-, Saturday Night Live (Television program), Motherhood-Humor, 30 Rock (Television program), Celebrities-humor

Appeal: Witty, observant, self-deprecating, autobiographical, conversational, candid tone, humorous, sarcastic, insightful, pop culture references, clever, straightforward, earnest, easy pace, inventive, chatty style, unpretentious, engaging

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Witty, Insightful, Candid

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson

A novel that was made into a movie, this book deals with the issue of balancing family and work as hedge fund manager and mother of two Kate Reddy tries to do.   A humorous, moving tale that is a great book for readers who enjoyed Tina Fey’s thoughts on trying to be a successful mother and boss.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Enjoy this Women’s Lives and Relationships novel whose main character could almost be Tina Fey/Liz Lemon.  It follows television writer Ruth Saunders who is living in Los Angeles along with her sassy grandmother Rae, who raised Ruth after a violent crash that killed her parents and left young Ruth with gruesome facial scars.   Ruth’s dream comes true when her autobiographical sitcom is picked up by a large network.  But the dream is not such a fairytale, as Ruth must deal with egotistical actors, difficult show executives, a crush on her boss and her grandmother’s upcoming wedding.  A witty and charming novel that has a smart, witty protagonist who screams Tina Fey and deals with workplace social issues mentioned in Bossypants.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

A fascinating read with a self-deprecating, witty style that Fey could enjoy.  Judd Foxman is jobless and living out his depressing life in the basement of a crappy house.  He is newly separated from his wife who he caught having an affair in the most outlandish yet amusing way, but must return home to his crazy dysfunctional family to sit shiva after the death of his father.  An intimate, candid tale of a family full of flawed characters and hilarious moments with each other.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

A nonfiction book that explores the dark side that can lurk in the world of young girls’ princess fascination.  Here is a subject for those interested in the motherhood advice given by Tina Fey, and maybe even a great read for Tina herself.  Orenstein explores the troubling aspects of the princess phenomenon and early sexualization messages given to girls.  Her research takes her to places including Disneyland, American Girl Place, a Miley Cyrus concert and a child beauty pageant.  An engaging read for anyone trying to raise girls or fascinated by the subject.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Loved reading a biography by a comedy star and want even more? Then this similarly styled memoir should fit the bill.  Comedy writer and star of NBC’s The Office and now The Mindy Project, Mindy candidly talks about growing up as a chubby Indian girl in Massachusetts, her road to comedic fame as well as her thoughts on life, love and friendship.  Enjoy some more humorous tales on comedy writing, television show business and the awesomeness of food.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

Get an overview of the history of female comedians within this last half century including the witty Tina Fey.  It traces female comedians and their struggle to conquer a male-dominated world, from Phyllis Diller in the 1950s to current comedians like Chelsea Handler and the women of SNL.  Enjoy this inside look at the evolution of female comedians and the personal interviews with the people involved.

Name: Margita Lidaka

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Heartwood

October 31, 2012

Publication Date: 2011

Author: Belva Plain

Title: Heartwood

Genre: Women Lives and Relationships

Number of Pages: 311

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 1979-1983

Series (If applicable): Werner Family Saga

Plot Summary: The last novel in the Werner Family Saga, Heartwood is a leisurely-paced story about Iris Stern’s family life. Set in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Iris Stern, who is a daughter of a Polish-Jewish immigrant and a professor at a university. Even though she is a modern woman with a successful career, but when it comes to family, she is more old-fashioned. Even when her marriage is unwinding, Iris stays with her husband, Theo. Additionally; Heartwood goes into the adult lives of Iris’s three children, which are two boys and a girl. Although all three of her children are described in the story, it mainly goes back and forth between Iris and her only daughter Laura. Laura married her husband Robbie in college because she was pregnant with her daughter Katie. Laura’s marriage to Robby is on the rocks because she has found success in her catering business and Robby cannot adapt to the fact that she is the breadwinner. The heartwarming novel explains the stories of Iris and Laura’s secrets, hardships and happy moments in their marriages and family life.

Subject Headings: Jewish women – New York City; options, alternatives, choices; family secrets – New York City; Jewish families; Adult children – family relationships; stern family

Appeal: character-driven; detailed; engaging; family-centered; heartwarming; intimate; leisurely-paced; moving; nostalgic; reflective; romantic; straightforward; well-developed

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: family-centered; heartwarming; leisurely-paced

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Pearlman, Ann, Infidelity (autobiography of three generations of a Jewish family and there family secrets)

– Rosen, Ruth, The world split open: how the modern women’s movement changed America (explains why women’s movement changed America,  how women like Iris and Laura can be successful women in the late 1970s into the early 1980s because of the impact of the women’s movement)

– Schulman, Bruce J., The seventies: the great shift in American culture, society, and politics (describes the cultural and political history of the 1970s which is when Heartwood took place)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Bradford, Barbara Taylor, 1933-, A Women of Substance ( first book of Harte family saga throughout several generations, woman who immigrated from Europe)

– Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden (mother-daughter relationship, secrets of family- history)

– Sullivan, J. Courtney, Maine (three generations of women who have different values, hidden secrets)

Name: Samantha Biegel

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

August 15, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Author: Mindy Kaling

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 222

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

Mindy Kaling, writer and actress on The Office, details her life and everyday musings through short essays in this memoir.  Readers learn about her journey to becoming a writer for a hit television show, what makes her an awesome best-friend, and lists of random plotlines she has for future movies.  Told through anecdotes Kaling relates her childhood with immigrant parents, developing a love of comedy, living and scraping by in New York, and creating and starring in an Off-Broadway production.  Slightly self-deprecating, Mindy presents herself and thoughts in a witty lighthearted manner.

Subject Headings:

Actors and actresses; celebrities; television writers; women comedians; women television personalities

Appeal:

funny; conversational; witty; easy; relaxed; lighthearted; humorous; sarcastic; episodic; straightforward language; unpretentious; chatty;

 3 terms that best describe this book:

Chatty; witty; lighthearted

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

Similar to Kaling’s book Burnett’s autobiography is told through anecdotes, giving glimpses of her life.   It includes stories on her friendships with some famous stars and her time on the long running Carol Burnett Show.  Those who like the conversational and witty tone of Kaling’s book may also enjoy this read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fey’s memoir tells about her rise as a famous comedienne and gives the reader anecdotes about her everyday life.  This book may appeal to readers who liked hearing about Kaling’s work to realize her dream as well as seeing how she is just like us most days.

Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families, and other Calamities by Marian Keyes

In this collection of essays, Keyes reflects on her life  experiences, including writing, relationships, and shopping.  This book may appeal to those who liked Kaling’s candid and conversational tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope

A history of a fictional town written by a fictional character based on the NBC television series Parks and Recreation.   A witty read with a television tie in, those who like Kaling’s connection to the office may like this read.  Also, Kaling mentions a love and respect for Amy Poehler who stars in Parks and Recreation.

Mumbo Gumbo: A Madeline Bean Novel by Jerrilyn Farmer

In the fifth book in this series Madeline is hired to replace a writer on the culinary show Food Freak.  This is a mystery novel that may appeal to readers who like witty writing styles.  Also, for readers who may want to take a fictional look at being  writer for a television show with a quirky staff.

The Book of Other People by Zadie Smith

With contributions from many notable authors, this book is a compilation of short stories based on the prompt to create a character.  Readers who liked Kaling’s essay format, with short, and sometimes very short chapters, may enjoy this read.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

Look Me in the Eye

August 13, 2012

Author:  John Elder Robison

Title: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s

Genre:  Nonfiction, Autobiography

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  288

Geographical Setting: Primarily Eastern U.S.; Massachusetts

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  In this darkly humorous and moving autobiography, Augusten Burroughs’s older brother, John Elder Robison, candidly and straightforwardly narrates what his life was like growing up with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, his struggles with adjusting to the world around him, and the relief he felt when he was finally diagnosed at age 40.  Robison also describes his traumatic childhood living with an alcoholic, abusive father and a mentally-unstable mother; his gift for repairing, building, and modifying electronic music equipment; and how he used this gift to escape his parents by joining KISS’s 1978 tour to build special effect guitars for Ace Frehley.  Robison’s life is colorful and full of bizarre developments and quirky, offbeat characters that make for a particularly compelling read.  The author’s clever observations of life are both humorous and insightful, and give readers an authentic portrait of one man’s life with Asperger’s.

Subject Headings:  Asperger’s Syndrome; Asperger’s Syndrome Patients; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Family Relationships

Appeal:  Bittersweet, darkly humorous, disturbing, funny, moving, offbeat, reflective, candid, thoughtful, insightful, quirky characters, authentic, clever, straightforward

3 terms that best describe this book:  Darkly humorous, offbeat, and moving

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

David Finch’s idiosyncratic behaviors are beginning to a take a toll on his five-year marriage when he is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  Relieved to find reason behind his idiosyncrasies, Finch begins his quest to find ways to manage his Aspergian behaviors, improve his social skills, and save his marriage.  Like John Elder Robison, Finch is a high-functioning Asperger syndrome patient who was unaware of his diagnosis until adulthood.  This title is suggested to readers looking for a heartwarming and funny book chronicling a person’s efforts to “overcome” his diagnosis.

2)  I Am Intelligent: From Heartbreak to Healing – A Mother and Daughter’s Journey through Autism by Peyton and Diane Goddard

Peyton Goddard, a sufferer of severe autism to the extent of being unable to speak or control her own body, and her mother, Diane, recount her history of misdiagnoses, marginalization, neglect, mistreatment, and exclusion from normal society and education.  Later in her life, Peyton was properly diagnosed and given the ability to communicate her story through computer technology.  Suggested to readers who want to read a deeply moving memoir about someone with a much more severe autistic spectrum disorder than Robison’s.

3)  The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood

An accessible, authoritative, and comprehensive book on aspects of Asperger’s syndrome, including its causes, how it is diagnosed, the social and behavioral challenges that Asperger’s syndrome patients encounter, and issues regarding stigmatization and bullying.  Suggested to those looking for a more scientific and clinical book about Asperger’s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher Boone, an autistic 15-year-old mathematical savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, finds his neighbor’s poodle impaled on a garden fork.  Determined to find the murderer, Christopher must learn to overcome his autistic behaviors in order to solve this mystery.  This title is suggested to readers who enjoy mysteries and are interested in individuals or characters with autistic spectrum disorders.

2)  The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, a middle-aged man detached from the world by his neuroses, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and social anxieties, becomes involved in the life of his social worker, Clarissa, and her son, Teddy, and most learn to confront his idiosyncrasies in order to help her escape her abusive ex-husband.  Daniel’s character, while not necessarily described as autistic, exhibits obsessive-compulsive characteristics frequently associated with sufferers of autistic spectrum disorders.  Readers of Look Me in the Eye looking for a similarly witty and touching tale may want to check out this book.

3)  With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Vol. 1 by Keiko Tobe

The first entry in a multi-volume manga series about Sachiko Azuma’s struggles with raising her autistic son, Hikaru, this volume introduces the characters and follows Hikaru from birth through early elementary school.  This series is a poignant and moving story that explores the realities of being a parent of an autistic child.  The series is suggested to those who enjoyed Look Me in the Eye but want to read about children with autistic spectrum disorders and are open to graphic-novel format.

Name:  Zach Musil

The Calling of the Grave

April 18, 2012

nullAuthor:  Simon Beckett

Title:  The Calling of the Grave

Genre:  Suspense, Audiobook

Publication Date:  February 2011

Number of Pages:  336, 9 hrs and 54 mins

Geographical Setting:  England

Time Period:  Eight years ago and present

Series (If applicable):  Dr. David Hunter series (book 4)

Plot Summary:

Eight years ago, forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter was helping the police attempt to locate the bodies of two teenage girls.  The man who confessed to and was convicted for their murder, Jerome Monk, was brought out of prison in order to help the police locate the burial site.  When Monk’s involvement ends in violence, the search is called off.  In the intervening eight years, David’s life has changed in ways that he couldn’t have imagined, but he’s shocked when the lead investigator in the missing girl’s case shows up on his doorstep to tell him that Jerome Monk has escaped from prison and might be targeting people involved in the previous investigation.  Quickly following that, a call from a woman he briefly met on the investigation eight years prior involves David in a quest to locate the murderer and ensure the safety of himself, Sophie, and anybody else involved in the investigation.  The narrator, Jonathan Keeble, gives the audiobook the appropriate sense of foreboding and helps to drive this suspenseful, fast-paced story to its conclusion.

Subject Headings:

Forensic anthropologists — Fiction.

Murder — Investigation — Fiction.

England — Fiction.

Hunter, David (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Detective and mystery stories.

Serial murder investigation–Fiction.

Appeal:  fast-paced, chilling, darker, menacing atmosphere, plot-centered, violent, straightforward, evocative setting, investigative, plot twists, suspenseful, foreboding, gritty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  fast-paced, suspenseful, violent

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist–William R. Maples:  This book gives the reader insight into the real experiences of a man in the same field as David Hunter.

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing–Kate Colquhoun:  This true story is a suspenseful murder story set in England, with the extra bonus of historical accuracy.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders–Vincent Bugliosi:  This true crime book describes how Charles Manson made his followers commit murder, the investigation, and the ensuing trials.  This is a gritty, faced-paced book with a menacing tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Flesh and Bones—Kathy Reichs:  Like David Hunter, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist investigating murders in this series of suspenseful, fast-paced novels.

Private—James Patterson:  This is another fast-paced suspense novel, but the investigator in this book is dealing with cold cases, like David Hunter does in this book.

Dead End—Leigh Russell:  Another novel that is a part of a series, this suspense story also takes place in small-town England, features violence against women, and serial killers.

Name:  Amanda

Fun Home

April 11, 2012

Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period:  1960’s – early 1980’s

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father.  It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references.  This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.

Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers;  Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.

Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Epileptic by David B.  This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium.  Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler.  This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships.  Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.

Running with Scissors by August Burroughs.  It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun HomeRunning with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Family Matter by Will Eisner.  Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.

Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents.  The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.

Name: Ally C.

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

April 11, 2012

cover
Author:  Pagan Kennedy

Title:  The First Man-Made Man:  The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

Genre:  GLBTQ, Non-fiction

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  224

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain, India

Time Period:  1920s-1960s

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Michael Dillon wasn’t the most famous person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but he was the first.  Born Laura Dillon, Michael spent years feeling as if he had been given the wrong body, and at the age of 24 began seeking out ways to correct this problem, beginning with testosterone pills and continuing through the successful creation of a penis by a noted plastic surgeon.  Despite getting what he wanted, life did not continue on in the easy fashion that he had hoped for—his family disowned him, he fell in love with a male-to-female transgender individual upon whom he performed illegal surgery, and his quest for spiritual enlightenment took some surprising turns.  The leisurely pace makes the story easy to read, and this book features a straightforward writing style and historical details, especially of a medical nature.

Subject Headings:

  • Dillon, Michael, — 1915-1962.
  • Transsexuals — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Sex change — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender identity — Great Britain.
  • Cowell, Roberta, — 1918-
  • Transsexualism — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender Identity — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Genitalia — surgery — Great Britain.
  • History, 20th Century — Great Britain.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy — history — Great Britain.
  • Transvestism — Great Britain — Biography.

Appeal:  deliberate, leisurely paced, flawed characters, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, tragic, historical details, details of medical advancements, accessible, informative, straightforward, compassionate

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  straightforward, informative, historical details

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders—Jennifer Finney Boylan:  This book also tells the story of a person changing genders, but it’s a memoir and provides a personal look at the process.

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl—John Colapinto:  Examines similar gender issues, but looks at them through the story of, as the subtitle states, a boy who was raised as a girl from birth, complete with surgery to make him appear anatomically female.

Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic–Alison Bechdel:  This graphic memoir examines family dynamics through the story of the author’s coming out as a lesbian to her closeted gay father, who commits suicide soon after.  Both of these books deal with issues of sexuality and gender.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides:  This novel explores a secret family history that has led to Callie’s existence as an intersex individual.  Much like Michael Dillon, she has always felt something was off, and has to decide how to proceed.

Stone Butch Blues—Leslie Feinberg:  The main character, Jess, is living as a man in the 1960’s and 1970’s, dealing with society’s pressures and prejudices.   This book has themes of identity and community that relate it to The First Man Made Man.

Sacred Country—Rose Tremain:  Follows Mary through decades of her life as she attempts to change her gender, and deals with issues of identity and loneliness.

Name:  Amanda

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.

Sin in the Second City

March 28, 2012


Author:  Karen Abbott

Title:  Sin in the Second City:  Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul

Genre:  Nonfiction, history

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  360

Geographical Setting:  Chicago

Time Period: 1900-1911

Series (If applicable):  n/a

Plot Summary:  Sin in the Second City details the rise and fall of Chicago’s most famous and well-respected brothel, the Everleigh Club.  Run by sisters Minna and Ada Everleigh, the club was the jewel of the south side Levee district, as the sisters strove to create an upscale business where only the best would do—the best customers, the best ladies, and the plushest décor.  The Everleigh Club boasted 50 rooms filled with perfume fountains, walls of mirrors, Oriental rugs, fine artwork, a library, and a gold leafed piano.  As the most prominent brothel of the vice district, the Everleigh Club was often the target for religious reformers and government agencies who were determined to stop white slavery—the kidnapping and selling of girls into a life of prostitution.  The reformers and the brothel owners clash for years, and this resulting story is candid, authoritative and will appeal to readers with an interest in Chicago history or in the “seedy underbelly” of American society.

Subject Headings:

Prostitution — Illinois — Chicago.

Brothels — Illinois — Chicago.

Everleigh Club.

Everleigh, Ada.

Everleigh, Minna.

Appeal:  leisurely-paced, candid, intriguing characters, layered, evocative, historical details, well-researched, straightforward, polished, atmospheric, eccentric characters, a few steamy scenes

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  historical details, eccentric characters, well-researched

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Devil in the White City—Erik Larson:  Both books are about the dark side of life in Chicago around the turn of the century.

The Outfit—Gus Russo:  Looks at corruption and crime within Chicago, without explicit violence.

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern—Joshua Zeitz:  Both books explore the existence of women who didn’t conform to society’s standards during the early part of the century.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Jungle—Upton Sinclair:  A classic book about the underbelly of Chicago society.

The Coast of Chicago—Stuart Dybek:  This collection of fictional stories provides glimpses into the lives of eccentric Chicago residents.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores—Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  Has a prostitution theme, but the protagonist is a customer, instead of a professional.

Name:  Amanda

Sacred Stone

February 23, 2012

Author: Clive Cussler (and Craig Dirgo)

Title: Sacred Stone

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 406

Geographical Setting: Greenland, Iceland, United States, Europe, High Seas

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): The Oregon Files

Plot Summary:  A 50,000 year-old radioactive meteorite has just been unearthed in the remotest reaches of Greenland by a clandestine archeological team.  When the team is murdered and the meteorite goes missing, it’s time to call the Corporation.  Headed up by the enigmatic and fearless Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation is made up of two dozen or so of the most highly skilled individuals ever to have come out of the military, intelligence, and special-ops communities.  Disguised as a rusty cargo ship, the Oregon serves as the super high-tech floating command center for the group.  When governments around the globe encounter threats too advanced or sinister for their own people to handle, much less their citizenry to ever find out about, it’s the Corporation that gets the call.  In tracking down the meteorite, Cabrillo and his crew discover and must attempt to thwart not only a plot to reduce Western cities to radioactive rubble, but also a scheme to eradicate Islam from the face of the earth by way of poisoned prayer rugs.  A breakneck race against the clock ensues as the Corporation must call upon their every resource, as well as every bit of luck, in order to stop annihilation on a global scale.

Subject Headings: Terrorism – Prevention; Relics; Mercenary troops; Ship captains; Meteorites; Greenland; Suspense fiction; Erik the Red; Elton John.

Appeal: colorful, concise, straightforward, fast-paced, dangerous, dramatic, earnest, foreboding, menacing, intense, action-oriented, layered, conclusive, violent, contemporary, provocative, confident, confrontational, clandestine, energetic, swaggering, tense, urgent, volatile.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: action-oriented,

straightforward, fast-paced.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes.

Fiennes “recounts his exploits as an explorer-adventurer, including traveling the Nile in a Hovercraft, four thousand miles of wild river journey in Alaska and Canada, and an overland trek to the North Pole” (Novelist), and that’s just a warm-up in a remarkable life filled with a remarkable number of near death escapes.  This work would do well with the reader enamored by the self-sufficient and ever resourceful adventurer character Cussler seems fond of placing in his novels (and probably thinks himself along those lines as well).

Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda by Robert Wallace H. Keith Melton, Henry R. Schlesinger and George J. Tenet.

This title is a collection of some of the harrowing and clandestine operations embarked upon by the CIA since the beginning of the Cold War, and also of the high-tech espionage tools and weapons invented to help agents to live to spy another day.  Spycraft would have wide appeal for any Adventure fan but especially with Cussler’s legions, what with his love of Bond-ish high-tech gadgetry.

SEAL Team Six by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin.

These are the guys who killed Bin Laden, rescued those people from the Somali pirates, and seem to be the go-to guys anytime the US government needs anyone saved, dead, or captured.  Wasdin was a Team Six sniper and gives a rare insider’s view into the grueling training and harrowing and deadly missions of this elite squad.  If Juan Cabrillo and the Corporation were real (and hopefully they aren’t) they would be rife with former Team Six people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

By Order of the President by W.E.B. Griffin

At the behest of the President, Special Forces Major Carlos Castillo assembles a secret team of operatives to investigate a missing airliner in this terse, fast-paced action thriller.  Big appeal is here for the reader who enjoyed the more militaristic aspects and machinations of the Corporation and Sacred Stone.  Fans of the Dirty Dozen/Magnificent Seven archetype of every person in the gang having a special skill (like the Corporation) would like this as well.  This is the first book in a series.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

As Cussler’s novels all seem to be water-bourn in some manner, it would seem a natural choice to suggest the granddaddy of aquatic adventure and danger and his masterwork.

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Former NYPD detective John Corey is now a special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and must track down a notorious Libyan terrorist hell-bent on murder and destruction.  Another natural choice for Cussler fans, this time in line more with the anti-terrorism aspects of Sacred Stone.  This is also part of a series.

Name: Bill S.