Posts Tagged ‘strong sense of place’

The Help

November 28, 2012


Title: The Help
Author: Stockett, Kathryn
Publication Date:2009
Pages:464 pages
Geographical Setting: Jackson, Mississippi
Time Period: The Sixties (20th century)
Genre:Historical fiction
Series: N/A

Plot Summary:
The author tells a sombre story using three women’s perspective as they share their experiences in Jackson, Mississippi in the mid 60’s. Aibileen and Minny are African American women working as maids in white holds. Aibileen, though has had her own share of personal tragedies, however she is dutiful, loyal and loves the white children she takes care of. Minny on the other hand is sour, resentful and does not hesitate to speak her mind. Skeeter, a young white graduate has an inner struggle about finding who she is and settling down like all of her friends. As the story develops, Skeeter an aspiring writer, feels compassion for the plight of these black maids as they are mistreated while working for these families. She tries to convince the maids to tell their story about how it feels to cook, clean and take care of these white children under such degrading circumstances. As we learn about these women’s lives, we also get an insight into the racial prejudice and discrimination in the the south during the mid 1960‘s. The story moves very fast urging you to follow the characters they develop to find out what eventually happens.
Despite the evocation of sadness and melancholy in the story, the occasional interjections of humor help liven up the overall tone of the book.

Subject Headings: African-American women, Civil Rights Movement, College graduates,
Domestic workers, Housekeepers, Interracial friendship, Race relations, The Sixties (20th century)

Three Appeal Terms: Fast-paced, Compelling, Thought Provoking,

Appeal: Touching, thought-provoking, humorous and compelling, provocative, lively, dialect-rich, upbeat, moving, strong sense of place, engrossing, captivating, Fascinating

Fiction Read-Alikes:

The healing by Odell, Jonathan
A historical fiction – a personal account of a former slave’s experiences during pre civil rights movements in the south. This is a great read alike for those who truly enjoyed The Help and are curious about the lives of the slaves and how they coped.

We are all welcome here by Berg, Elizabeth
Here again, like the The Help we find three women but facing different types of struggles and survival – a bedridden mother, a teenager looking for freedom and an African American caregiver. The author portrays the relationship between race and class during the civil rights movements. This book would appeal to those interested in women’s quest for survival under grave circumstances, but with a lighter tone than in The Help.

Roots: the saga of an American family by Alex Haley
This award winning novel takes you right into the authentic story of slavery portrayed by this African American family. You follow the protagonist Kunte Kinte directly from capture in Africa, his resistance and eventual arrival and forced into slavery. This story spans seven generations of this family recounting their history through work in plantation, civil war and reconstruction period.

Non-Fiction Read-Alikes:

Song in a weary throat: an American pilgrimage by Murray, Paulie
Find a real personal account of Pauli Murray on the civil rights movement, women rights and advocacy. This will appeal to those who would like to learn more about race integration and major works on women’s rights.

Civil rights movement: people and perspectives by Michael, Ezra
For those who are interested in civil rights movements and its effect on the nation, this is a great resource. The book is comprehensive and gives various perspectives on the events of the civil rights era.

W.E.B. DuBois: biography of a race, 1868-1919 by David Levering Lewis
The biography of DuBois is an intelligent and detailed work. It is a great resource with in-depth account and analysis of the history of racism, civil war and civil rights movements. A well researched book and a credible source. Those intrigued by the level of racism and prejudice as portrayed in The Help would appreciate this resource.

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When the Emperor Was Divine

November 27, 2012

Author: Julie Otsuka

Title: When the Emperor Was Divine

Genre: Historical Fiction, Multi-cultural

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 144

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: 1942-1945

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This is a historically detailed story about a family that was in the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. The novel, which is written in third person, begins with the mother and two children still at home after their father was arrested. This was a few months before the rest of the family goes to the internment camp. The rest of the novel the characters reflect there unfortunate journey and lives while in the Japanese Internment Camp and their lives after the war. Even though living in the internment camps for over three years was horrible, it was bittersweet because they have pleasant moments and dreams. This family-centered novel provides the readers with a character-driven perspective of the lives in the internment camps in the United States during the Second World War

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans – Mass internment, 1942-1945; World War II – California; Japanese-American families; concentration camps — California

Appeal: atmospheric; bittersweet; character-driven; closely observed; detailed setting; emotionally intense; family-centered; historical details; leisurely paced; multiple points of view; nostalgic; reflective; richly detailed; strong sense of place; thought-provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bittersweet; family-centered; historical details

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Davenport, John C., The attack on Pearl Harbor: The United States enters World War II (explains the historical details of how and why the Japanese were put into the internment camps)

– Grant, Kimi Cunningham, Silver like dust: one family’s story of America’s Japanese internment (an actual individual family-centered account of the internment camps)

– Grapes, Bryan J., Japanese-American internment camps (several articles and stories of people who were in the internment camps)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Appanah-Mouriquan, Nathacha, 1973-, The last brother (bittersweet, family-centered, World War II story)

– Finney, Ernest J., California time (family-centered story about a Japanese American families relationship with Portuguese and Italian families, and how World War II affected the relationship)

– Salisbury, Graham, Eyes of the emperor (thought-provoking, Japanese American story during World War II, story through the eyes of individual who fought in the war and was still discriminated against)

Name: Samantha Biegel

From Barcelona, with Love

October 3, 2012

Cover of From Barcelona, with LoveAuthor:  Elizabeth Adler

Title: From Barcelona with Love

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 338

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, Barcelona, Spanish Sierra Mountains

Time Period: Present day

Series: Mac Reilly, P.I.; Book 4

Plot Summary: Bibi Fortunata, a famous singer, is released from trial by a judge due to lack of evidence for the murder of her lover and his latest mistress, her supposed best friend. Rather than allow the scandal to affect her seven year-old daughter, Paloma, Bibi decides to leave her in the care of an aunt, and promptly disappears without a trace. Two years later, young Paloma meets TV detective show host and private investigator Mac Reilly, and Bibi’s family asks Mac to take up the case: find Bibi—if she is still alive—and reunite mother and daughter once again. Mac follows the trail to Barcelona, where he must discover the truth behind the murders before Bibi’s sinister ex-husband comes to take Paloma away, and claim her inheritance of a Spanish wine-making dynasty for himself. Moving at a brisk pace, and filled with plot twists, From Barcelona with Love is framed by the atmosphere and rich detail Adler evokes of cosmopolitan Barcelona and the more pastoral wineries and villas of the Spanish countryside. And the tone of the novel strikes a graceful balance between mystery and romance, as the story unravels the secret of Bibi.

Subject Headings: Barcelona (Spain), Murder investigation, Frameups, Women celebrities, Jilted women, Missing Persons, Suspicion, Detectives, Mothers and daughters, Murder suspects, Triangles (Interpersonal relations), Extramarital relations, Americans in foreign countries.

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, intriguing secondary characters, dramatic, vivid, series (characters), character centered, plot twists, resolved ending, rich and famous, steamy, contemporary, detailed settings, exotic, strong sense of place, lush, suspenseful, colorful, conversational.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, plot twists, detailed settings

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Spain: A Culinary Roadtrip by Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, and Gwyneth Paltrow

Spanish food and wine figure prominently in From Barcelona, with Love, and readers who may wish to learn more on the subject will likely enjoy this gastronomic tour of Spain co-written by a preeminent chef, the food critic for the New York Times, and a celebrity foodie.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli by Lisa Abend

There are multiple scenes in Adler’s novel that evoke the contemporary Spanish cuisine known as molecular gastronomy, that was first popularized by maverick chef Ferran Adrià. Readers who enjoy food writing and want to explore the topic further will find much to savor here.

Barcelona The Great Enchantress by Robert Hughes

For readers who want to learn more about the historic sites described in From Barcelona, with Love, award-winning travel writer Hughes here vividly describes the Spanish city which he has admired and visited for over forty years.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught

Readers who enjoyed From Barcelona, with Love may also like this steamy Romantic Suspense novel, which similarly focuses on relationships and the foibles of the rich and famous. Leigh Kendall, a Broadway star, awakens in the hospital after a car crash to discover that she is suspected in the disappearance of her well-to-do husband.

Veil of Night by Linda Howard

As From Barcelona, with Love is an example of the gentler side of Romantic Suspense, Veil of Night may appeal to some of Adler’s readers. Howard’s fast-paced novel is focused on romantic relationships, and is humor-inflected with an accent on mystery. Wedding planner Jaclyn Wilde must team with P.I. Eric Wilder to solve the murder of one of her clients, a bridezilla depised by everyone she came in contact with.

Winter Garden by Hannah Kristin

Readers who appreciate Adler’s story of family secrets, sense of place, and richly detailed descriptions of exotic locales may enjoy this story of a woman trying to uncover the mysteries of her mother’s tragic past hidden in a Russian fairy tale she used to tell her children. Winter Garden takes the reader on a journey from apple growing country in the Pacific Northwest to Stalin-era Leningrad.

Name: John Rimer

In A Sunburned Country

August 15, 2012

Author: Bill Bryson

Title: In a Sunburned Country

Genre: Nonfiction, Travel Writing

Publication Date: May 15, 2001

Number of Pages: 335

Geographical Setting: Australia –Description and Travel

Time Period: Modern Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In this non-fiction travelogue, Bill Bryson writes of his preparation for, and adventures traveling around Australia, a land filled with friendly inhabitants, deadly and peculiar wildlife, wide open spaces, and one bizarre and interesting history. A quintessential incidental learning book, readers can’t help but pick up and become immersed in history, traveling and lodging tips, and Bryson’s witty and at times sarcastic impressions of an in many ways an undiscovered land. This book will make you both laugh out loud and cringe at Bryson’s details and experiences.

Subject Headings: Voyages and travels; Travelers; Bill Bryson – Journeys – Australia; National characteristics, Australian

Appeal: Funny, Humorous, Engaging, Witty, Engrossing, Leisurely-paced, Thoughtful, Thought-provoking, Strong sense of place, Detailed setting, Details of Australia, Descriptive, Well-researched, Vivid

3 Terms that best describe this book: Humorous, Detailed, Strong sense of place

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

This travel adventure begins when Hawks accepts a bet that he can travel around Ireland for a month with a mini-fridge as his companion, hoping that he’ll regain some sense of adventure and re-evaluate his life. Meeting many characters, you’ll find yourself rooting for Hawks and laughing along the way. This book might appeal to those who enjoyed the characters Bryson encountered during his journey and the strong sense of place prevalent in In a Sunburned Country.

2) Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison

Much like In a Sunburned Country, this is a funny, informative book written in a way that educates the reader while making him laugh at Allison’s tales of working as a leader of wildlife and eco-tourism trips in the African Bush.

3) A Year in the World by Frances Mayer

Although not as humorous as In a Sunburned Country, Mayer’s tale of traveling around the world, renting ordinary houses on ordinary streets and contemplating the meaning of travel and home pulls the reader into the journey with her, experiencing the lifestyle of each locale. It too has a strong sense of place and informs the reader while telling tales of voyages and travels.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

This classic WWII tale of love and war tells the story of a young Englishwoman living in Malaya who is captured by the Japanese and years later travels to the Australian Outback to find the man who helped save her.  Like In a Sunburned Country, it has a very strong sense of place and takes the reader on a journey to a more unknown Australia.

2)  Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

Set in New South Wales, the southeast part of Australia, this is the tale of a man who plants hundreds of different species of gum trees on his farm and tells his 19-year-old daughter that she can marry the first man to name all the species correctly. Many suitors show up and the story reads almost like a fairy tale. Like In a Sunburned Country, rural Australia serves as an important backdrop to the story.

3) Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

In this book, Cloudstreet refers to a broken down house on the wrong side of the tracks in Perth which is located in Western Australia. When two families move into the house, they turn it into a beautiful home against all odds and the reader follows the families over 20 years.  It’s a tale of another part of Australia: Perth, which Bryson visits and explores in his book as it’s called ‘the most isolated city on earth.’

Name: Bridget Optholt

Swamplandia!

August 8, 2012

Author:  Karen Russell

Title:  Swamplandia!

Genre:  Literary Fiction/Best sellers

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  Florida Everglades

Time Period:  late 20th century (1980’s)

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Ava loves the alligator-wrestling life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades.  When her mom—the theme park’s main attraction– dies, the family’s way of life is threatened.  The father goes to the mainland on a business venture; her sister falls in love with a ghost and disappears; and her big brother, Kiwi, gets a job at a rival park called The World of Darkness.  Ava sets out with the eccentric bird-man on a mission through the magical swamps to save her sister, but then she has to save herself.

Subject Headings:  Girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Amusement parks-fiction; Alligators-fiction; Everglades (Florida)-fiction.

Appeal: offbeat, witty, mystical, lyrical, quirky characters, vivid, imaginative, detailed setting, strong sense of place, compassionate, uneasy, changing points of view (two).

3 terms that best describe this book:  imaginative, lyrical, strong sense of place.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Florida Everglades by Connie M. Toops

History of the Florida Everglades, which is where Swamplandia takes place.

Crocodiles and Alligators of the World by David Alderton

Information on origins, evolution and distribution, courtship, reproduction, and many individual species paint a thorough portrait, with maps of their habitats.  References and pictures.  Besides wrestling them, Ava has a pet alligator baby.

The Enduring Seminoles:  From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism by Patsy West

Seminole Indians (mentioned in Swamplandia) and economic culture; Florida history, culture and tourism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

A young postal worker in a small Indian town, Sampath, climbs into a guava tree and becomes unintentionally famous as a holy man, setting off a series of events that spin increasingly out of control.  Humorous, offbeat and strong sense of place.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Similar to Swamplandia, because the teen girl is surviving without help of adults, there are descriptions of nature, and a similar writing style.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A zookeeper’s son, Pi Patel, sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.  It’s a journey with animals and literary.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

 

Rainshadow Road

August 3, 2012

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Title: Rainshadow Road (Friday Harbor Trilogy #2)

Genre: Romance (Modern)

Publication Date: February 28, 2012

Number of Pages: 308 (Paperback)

Geographical Setting: Friday Harbor, Washington State, U.S.

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Book 2 of the Friday Harbor Series

Plot Summary: The books in this series are based around the love lives of the three very different  Nolan brothers who all live in Friday Harbor, Washington. Rainshadow Road focus’ on Sam Nolan, and is told from the point of view of Lucy Marinn, who’s a glass artist in town. When Lucy’s longtime boyfriend confesses he’s been cheating on her with Lucy’s sister, Lucy is forced to reevaluate her romantic choices and life as a whole. Meanwhile, Sam is asked by Lucy’s ex as a favor owed, to try and romance Lucy in order to get her over her anger. Reluctantly, Sam and Lucy begin to spend more time together and eventually fall in love. However, it doesn’t go smoothly as Lucy’s ex returns and Lucy finds out about the favor he asked of Sam. Will Lucy be able to forgive Sam and begin a new life with him?

Subject Headings: Love stories; Self-realization in women – Fiction; Sisters – Fiction; Lives and relationships – Fiction

Appeal: Character-driven, Whimsical, Relaxed-paced, Romantic, Dramatic, Richly-detailed, Friendship story, Reflective, Strong sense of place, Family story, Series characters, Descriptive

3 Terms that best describe this book: Romantic, Compelling, Character-Driven story

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Essential San Juan Islands Guide by Marge Mueller and Ted Mueller

If you’re wondering about the places in and around Friday Harbor where Rainshadow Road takes place, or if you want to go there, this guidebook filled with pictures is geared toward the tourist so it gives in-depth information on where to go and what to see.

2) Best Places Northwest Cookbook, 2nd Edition: Recipes from the Outstanding Restaurants and Inns of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbiaby Cynthia Nims

Anyone wanting to experience the culture of Friday Harbor shouldn’t forget its food. This book has recipes from some of the places mentioned in Rainshadow Road including the Friday Harbor House.

3) The Light on the Island by Helene Glidden

A different side of life on the San Juan Islands (where Friday Harbor is located), this is a memoir originally published in 1951about Glidden’s childhood growing up in a lighthouse with her large family at the turn of the last century on Patos Island, one of the San Juan Islands.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

This classic novel is about a woman who is told the story of spirited Idgie and Ruth in the 1930’s and is inspired to change her own life. It also has a strong sense of place and is a character-driven love story.

2)  Rescue Me (Lovett Texas Series #3)by Rachel Gibson

Similar to Rainshadow Road in its romantic undertones and story of letting oneself open up, this is the story of Sadie Howell who returns to her small hometown in Texas single and in a whirl of gossip. She meets a tall, muscled stranger and impulsively asks him to her cousin’s wedding. Also has that small town atmosphere.

3) Lucky in Love (Lucky Harbor Series #4) by Jill Shalvis

A modern romance about Mallory Quinn, a nurse who is always looking out for everyone else. When she meets bad-boy Ty Garrison, Mallory decides to throw caution to the wind and give in to his advances. But what to do when Ty unexpectedly falls for Mallory? This is a book for those who liked the back and forth dialogue between Sam and Lucy in Rainshadow Road.

Name: Bridget Optholt

Espresso Tales

August 1, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Title: Espresso Tales

Genre: Gentle

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland

Time Period: Current

Series: 44 Scotland Street, 2

Plot Summary:

Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street and continues to follow the lives of the tenants, who happen to reside at the address 44 Scotland St.  Readers can catch up with Pat, who had just finished her second gap year, has decided to stay in Edinburgh, Bruce who needs a new job and may give the wine business a try, and gifted 6-year-old Bertie who is starting kindergarten and is forced to wear crushed-strawberry (or pink) dungarees on his first day. The characters, of various ages, form relationships in odd and endearing ways.  This is a lighthearted work that takes turns revealing the story of each of the characters.  By using alternating points of view, the reader is able to see how the different characters reflect on the other residents, and themselves, providing insight and humor.

Subject Headings:

Apartment houses; father and son; friendship; genius; gifted children; men/women relations; mother and son; neighbors; roommates; senior women; women college students; young women

Appeal:

Strong sense of place; amusing; upbeat; engaging; character driven; relaxed pacing; lighthearted tone; humorous tone; flawed characters; recognizable characters; insightful characters; episodic storyline

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place; amusing; relaxed pacing

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Edinburgh: A Cultural and Literary History by Donald Campbell

Alexander McCall Smith captures the city in Espresso Tales, providing a great sense of place.  This work, organized by sections of town provides an introduction to Edinburgh’s history.  For those who want to know more about the town that is the backdrop of this series.

Waiter, There’s a Horse in My Wine: A Treasury of Entertainment, Exploration and Education by America’s Wittiest Wine Critic by Jennifer Rosen

In Espresso Tales one of the characters, Bruce decides to try his luck in the wine trade.  This suggestion is for those readers who may want to know a bit more about the world of wine through a collection of humorous wine critic columns.

Hothouse kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart

This work looks at the consequences that putting too much pressure on gifted children may have.  This could be an interesting book for readers who were invested in Bertie’s difficulties with his mother and would like to learn more about the predicament of gifted children.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber by James Thurber illustrated by Marc Simont

This humorous book is a compilation of short stories detailing the roles the narrator, a meek man, imagines himself in.  Combining illustrations with Thurber’s short stories, as well as including Thurber’s amusing autobiographical essay this book may appeal to those who like the lighthearted introspection that can be found in Espresso Tales.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

In this novel, set during the Great Depression, two young couples meet and befriend one another in Wisconsin.   A stylistically complex and moving novel, this story focuses on the connections that people make, which may resonate with readers who like the unlikely friendships and acquaintances that are made at 44 Scotland Street.

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston

In this book ambitious Quinn, a British Lawyer living in New York City, is put on bed rest for the last three months of her pregnancy.  This character-driven, humorous work has Quinn reflecting on her life, getting to know her neighbors, developing relationships in places she didn’t think she would.  This book may appeal to those who like insight into their characters thoughts as well as those who like circumstances that create unlikely bonds.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

Murder in the Sentier

July 30, 2012

Author: Cara Black

Title: Murder in the Sentier

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 325

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1994

Series (If applicable): Aimee Leduc Investigations (3)

Plot Summary:

Book three in the Aimee Leduc series begins with a recently released prisoner contacting Aimee claiming to have information on her long lost mother.   When her informant winds up dead Aimee finds herself investigating two recent murders alongside burglaries and a kidnapping committed by a radical group in the 1970s.  Tech savvy Aimee also needs to keep up with her day job at Leduc Investigations.  A full cast of quirky characters, including an albino fashion designer, her business partner Renee, government rebels, and a handsome financial advisor, make for an intriguing story that always has something going on. Told from a couple different viewpoints Black’s work has well crafted, yet flawed characters.  With two mysteries converging together, and a vivid description of Paris (and not always the pretty side of Paris), this novel is compelling and suspenseful.

Subject Headings:

Computers, Families of missing persons, Leduc, Aimee, Murder, Murder investigation, Terrorists, Women Detectives

Appeal:

Character-driven, strong sense of place, suspenseful, compelling, flawed characters, engrossing, atmospheric, bittersweet, intriguing characters, series characters, quirky characters, action-oriented, flashbacks, investigative, detailed setting, straightforward language

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place, action-oriented, intriguing characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century by Tony Judt

Through the lives of three of France’s well known intellectuals of the 20th century, this work discusses politics and moral responsibility.  For those may want to know more about the political motivations behind the radicals featured in Black’s work.

Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey

This book provides a look at Paris’s history, through the lives of Parisians.  This work looks at the well known and beautiful as well as the underworld and gritty.  This work allows readers to see more of Paris than the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and takes the reader to places like the Sentier.

Metro Stop Paris: An Underground History of the City of Light by Gregor Dallas

The history of Paris told through twelve metro stops, allowing reader to see a more well rounded version of Paris through vignettes. Like Black’s work it does not always focus on the romanticized version of Paris.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Part of the Thomas Lynley mystery series this book features detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.  Havers, known for her abrasive personality, is partnered with Lynley, who she doesn’t particularly care for, on an investigation involving the murder of a man by his daughter.  This work, set in England, has a strong sense of place and features of woman investigator.

In the Woods by Tana French

The first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series features detective Rob Ryan.  Ryan is investigating a murder that is eerily similar to one he witnessed as a child.  A compelling mystery with a strong sense of place, it also features an investigator who, like Aimee Leduc, is looking into a mystery involving his own past.

Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti

The first book in the Inspector Daquin series involves the investigation into the death of a Thai girl, at a Parisian fashion workshop.  An action packed gritty mystery, with a strong sense of place in Paris, mainly the Sentier.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

July 30, 2012

Author: Alexander McCall Smith, Performed by Lisette Lecat

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: Book published 1998, Book on CD 2003

Number of Pages: Book -235, Book on CD – 8.25 hours on 7 discs

Geographical Setting: Botswana

Time Period: The 1990s

Series:  First in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Plot Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a rather large middle-aged woman, living in Gabarone, Botswana in 1998. Escaping an abusive marriage, she returns to care for her ailing father. When her beloved Daddy dies, she is left to consider her prospects. Using the money left to her by her father, and inspired by Agatha Christie, Precious Ramotswe opens the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – the first of its kind in all of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe, as she is called, proves adept at helping “people with the problems in their lives” such as finding stray husbands, exposing a con man, and discreetly following a strong-willed daughter. The vignettes are told with a quiet dignity but with humor and sincerity. The writing is very descriptive complementing the easy pace of the story. The narrator is a native of South Africa and adds a rich and lyrical voice to the narrative, providing not only correct pronunciation of the many native words, but also adding a lovely atmosphere to the stories.

Subject Headings: Private investigators – Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings, Ramotswe, Precious (fictitious character) – Fiction – Sound Recordings, Missing children – Fiction – Sound recordings, Swindlers and swindling – Fiction – Sound recordings, Botswana – Fiction – Sound recordings

Appeal: Leisurely-paced, comfortable, gentle, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, character-driven, engaging, episodic, family-centered, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting, strong sense of place, accessible, natural and unaffected language, unpretentious  

3 terms that best describe this book: Comfortable, Humorous, Unpretentious

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Beaton, M. C. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; A cozy mystery filled with delightful characters living in the Cotswolds, this narrative presents an amusing and enjoyable fast-paced story. First in the Agatha Raisin series.

Drayson, Nicholas. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa; A gentle and delightful book that tells the story of a retired gentleman who is vying for the attention of a woman who appears to be out of his league; but all is not as it seems. The lovely descriptions of the Kenyan landscape frames the quiet and richly detailed narrative.

Farahad, Zama. Marriage Bureau for Rich People; This affectionate story tells of a retired Indian man who has a knack for matchmaking and opens a marriage arrangement office in southern India. Containing humor and optimism, this book is full of amusing characters and gentle stories in an exotic setting.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Randall, Will. Botswana Time; Using vivid descriptions, this personal account of life in rural Botswana gives the reader an insightful and engaging look at the culture and success of this African nation.

Summerscale, Kate. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective; Scotland Yard Detective Jack Whicher is called to unravel the mystery of the murder of a three year old boy in 1860 England. Tireless research and a compelling account by the author drives the reader forward in the investigation of this heinous crime.

Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: An English Mystery; Having unprecedented access to Christie’s letters and journals and using a conversational writing style, the author presents a detailed and interesting account of the life and works of Agatha Christie.

Name: Patty Daniel

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.