Posts Tagged ‘strong female characters’

The Hungry Moon

November 4, 2009

Author: Ramsey Campbell

Title: The Hungry Moon

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1986

Number of Pages: 293

Geographical Setting: Moonwell, a fictional town in England’s Peaks District

Time Period: Present day (1986)

Series: No

Plot Summary: Located in England’s Peaks District, the town of Moonwell is a popular tourist stop named after a large cave that dominates the surrounding moorlands.  Each year on Midsummer Eve, the people of Moonwell hold a ceremony inspired by ancient Druid customs in which they decorate the cave with flowers.  However, this year is different.  When a charismatic Christian evangelist named Godwin Mann comes to stop the pagan tradition, Moonwell residents are quickly spellbound by his extreme religious teachings and the ceremony is abandoned.  As religious fanaticism grips the town, Mann descends into the cave to unroot its pagan forces, but instead encounters a tremendous evil for which he is no match.  Using the preacher as its host, the long-dormant evil reemerges from the cave in the body of Mann to lead the unsuspecting and faithful Moonwell residents to their doom.  As an ominous darkness turns day into permanent night and Moonwell is completely cut-off from the world, teacher Diana Kramer must interpret her terrible visions to learn how to save the town.  Why, Diana must learn, can no one leave Moonwell?  What are the pale, eyeless creatures lurking on the moor?  Why does the moon and its light seem so threatening?  Unless Diana can answer these questions, the unsuspecting people of Moonwell are doomed along with their souls.

Subject Headings: Evangelists, English;  Druids and druidism;  Small town life — England;  Americans in England;  Teachers — England;  Demons;  Good and evil;  Supernatural;  England;  Occult fiction, English;  Horror stories, English.

Appeal: measured, engrossing, menacing atmosphere, chilling, dark, ominous, supernatural, nightmarish, rural, small town, contemporary, plot-centered, some strong violence, strong female characters, dramatic language, some strong language

Three terms that best describe the book: Small town, Nightmarish, Supernatural

Relevant Fictin Works and Authors:

Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon — White Falls is just another sleepy New England town until young Jeb Taylor falls under the spell of an amulet with a sinister history centuries old.  As madness spreads from neighbor to neighbor, ex-con Billy Smith must decipher the dark dreams that have led him to this showdown with an ancient evil.  (measured, ominous, small town, nightmarish, supernatural, dark, contemporary, good vs. evil)

The Messenger of Magnolia Street: A Novel by River Jordan — When the sleepy Southern town of Shibboleth is threatened by an unnamed evil, three childhood friends return to save their hometown.  Trice, Billy, and Nehemiah must descend into the underground springs to battle the evil and correct decades-old wrongs in the little time that remains.  (small town, ominous, supernatural, measured, menacing atmosphere, good vs. evil.)

Curfew by Phil Rickman — When an ancient Druid monument is disturbed beneath the quiet English village of Crybbe, a long-buried evil is unleashed on the town and it’s residents.  A terrifying “being of light” called the Dragon rises to feast on the town, and it’s up to reporter Fay Morrison to prevent disaster.  (small town, ominous, supernatural, strong female characters, Druids, rural England, good vs. evil.)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Druid Source Book: From Earliest Times to the Present Day by John Matthews — Using historical stories and essays, this book offers an in-depth look at the mysterious Druids.  Included are fascinating classical accounts of Druid culture from Julius Caesar, examinations of druidic ceremonies, and a look at the druidic revival of the 18th and 19th centuries.  This book gives a greater understanding of the ancient peoples who summoned the lunar evil threatening to destroy Moonwell.

The Moon: Myth and Image by Jules Cashford — Using 175 illustrations, this book offers a comprehensive look at the moon and its influence on mythology, religion, and consciousness.  Beginning with early Paleolithic bone markings and moving to contemporary poetry, this book traces our centuries-old fascination with the moon as well as the customs and secular events it inspires.  In Moonwell, the annual “cave dressing” is thought to be a harmless custom mimicking ancient moon worship, but the lunar “being” within the cave proves to be more than a myth and hungry for human souls.

Peak District: Landscapes Through Time by John Barnatt — Written by the Senior Survey Archaeologist for the Peak District, this book examines the archaeological landscapes of Britian’s first national park.  Using maps and the latest research, it tells the story of the famous landscape’s evolution including details about prehistoric barrows, stone circles, Romano-British settlements, and nineteenth-century lead mines.  As a beautiful national park, the Peak District attracts many tourists to Moonwell, but the landscape also serves as the Earthly home of the unspeakable evil threatening the town and the world.

Name: Russ


October 7, 2009

Author: Lee Child

Title: Tripwire

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 343

Geographical Setting: Mainly New York City but also Key West, small towns in New York state, St. Louis, Dallas, Hawaii, and Vietnam.

Time Period: Present day (1999)

Series: Jack Reacher series (Book #3)

Plot Summary: Jack Reacher is a former military policeman living “off the grid” in the Florida Keys.  Digging swimming pools by day and bouncing at a local strip club by night, Reacher’s reclusive lifestyle is interrupted when a private investigator named Costello comes looking for him and is soon after discovered beaten to death with his fingertips removed.  Feeling responsible, Reacher flies to New York City to track down Costello’s employer whom he discovers was his recently deceased mentor, Lean Garber.  Reunited with Garber’s daughter Jodie, Reacher and his forbidden love interest take up the case of locating an elderly couple’s son who went missing in Vietnam.  But many questions arise:  Why won’t the government confirm Victor Hobie’s death?  Who are the dark-suited goons trying to kill Reacher and Jodie in broad daylight?  How is the disfigured loan shark with the hook hand linked to the Hobie’s missing son?  Reacher and Jodie must travel from New York to St. Louis to Hawaii’s Central Identification Laboratory to solve the mystery and effect justice for the elderly Hobie’s.  But above all, Reacher and Jodie must stay alive.

Subject Headings: Reacher, Jack;  Murder — Key West, Florida;  Vietnam veterans — Key West, Florida;  Vietnam War, 1961-1975 — Missing in action;  Suspense stories, American.

Appeal: relentless, compelling, engaging and eccentric hero, strong female characters, series, action-oriented, cinematic, investigative, multiple plot twists, resolved ending, contemporary, details of military life and weaponry, edgy, menacing atmosphere, suspenseful, smart, clean and direct language.

Three terms that best describe the book: Cinematic, Menacing, Engaging Hero

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Closers (Harry Bosch series #11) by Michael Connelly —  After leaving the LAPD, detective Harry Bosch returns to the force to work the cold case unit.  When he’s assigned to investigate the shooting of a 16-year-old girl, he uncovers department politics, corruption, and a possible cover-up involving a white supremacist group with LAPD ties.  (engaging loner hero, series, plot twists, details of military life, suspenseful.)

Point of Impact (Bobby Lee Swagger series #1) by Stephen Hunter —  Twenty years after Vietnam, Bobby Lee Swagger is a disgruntled former sniper of legendary skill living in seclusion in the Arkansas mountains when he’s recruited for one last mission by a shadowy government agency.  When Swagger is framed for an assassination attempt on the president, he must use his unmatched skills to clear his name and achieve justice.  (engaging loner hero, series, plot twists, details of military life and weaponry, suspenseful, action-oriented)

Hondo by Louis L’Amour —  In this classic western set in 1874, a U.S. Cavalry rider named Hondo Lane defends Angie Lowe and her son from the vicious Apache warrior Vittoro.  (engaging hero, details of military life, clean language, commitment to justice)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Where They Lay: Searching for America’s Lost Soldiers by Earl Swift —  This informative study by a seasoned military journalist chronicles the efforts of Hawaii’s Central Identification Laboratory to recover and identify the remains of Vietnam MIAs.  The book’s focus on finding a missing helicopter crew mirrors Jack Reacher’s work with the CIL to identify Victor Hobie’s remains.

Living Off the Grid: A Simple Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Self-Reliant Supply of Energy, Water, Shelter, and More by David Black —  This general guide to more self-sufficient living offers tips on living without being connected to major utilities.  Also included are guidelines to communicating and making a living “off the grid.”  These topics would be of great interest to Jack Reacher prefers to fly well under the radar.

Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind by Nancy Sherman —  Written by a philosopher and US Naval Academy intstructor, this book examines how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism influences soldiers to “suck it up,” to endure, and to put aside their feelings to accomplish the mission at all costs.  Though he may not have read Cicero, Reacher’s single-minded relentlessness in pursuing justice may have its roots in Stoicism.

Name: Russ

Shame on It All

April 15, 2009

Title: Shame on It All
Author: Zane
Publication date: 2001
Page count: 355
Genre: Urban fiction, African American
Geographical setting: Baltimore/Washington D.C. area
Series: n/a

Plot summary: This humorous, fast moving novel chronicles the lives of the three Whitfield sisters: Harmony, Lucky, and Bryce, who don’t always see eye to eye, but love each other just the same. Harmony and Bryce are highly successful career women, while Lucky is an ambitious medical school student. However, it’s not long before the sisters run into trouble. Harmony has just received news that will change her life forever;  a secret she’s deterimined to keep from her sisters and her longtime boyfriend, Zachary, whom she abruptly begins pushing out of her life. Bryce goes through a messy breakup herself, when she discovers her man has been cheating on her. Finally, while at school, Lucky meets the love of her life, Robbie. But a mistake from her not-too-distant past has the potential to put their relationship, and, in fact, her entire future in jeopardy. The sisters’ struggles to get back on track often result in hilarious and surprising twists, and their friends’ scrapes provide for some unforgettable subplots. In spite of their squabbles and outrageous predicaments, the deep friendships and unbreakable bonds amongst the sisters and their friends manage to grow even stronger.

Subject headings: African American women; African Americans; Sisters; Female friendship; Dating (social customs); Family
Appeal: steamy, erotic, unembellished, raw, multiple points of view, humorous, page turner, fast moving, strong secondary characters, romantic, contemporary, sexually explicit, graphic, gritty, racy, family-centered, drama, strong female characters

Similar works (fiction): Soul Mates Dissipate – Mary B. Morrison (relationships, steamy, plot twists, romance)
Ladies’ Night Out – Electa Rome Parks (erotic, female friendship, successful female characters)
Sister, Sister – Eric Jerome Dickey (multiple points of view, sisters, family, relationships)

Similar works (nonfiction): Sucka Free Love: How to Avoid Dating the Dumb, the Deceitful, the Dastardly, the Dysfunctional and the Deranged – Deborrah Cooper (dating, relationships, sex, African American viewpoint)
What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know About Sex: The Real Deal on Passion, Loving, and Intimacy – Denene Millner and Nick Chiles (African American viewpoint, sex, relationships)
Having it All? Black Women and Success – Veronica Chambers (strong women, careers, community)

Name: Suzanne