Posts Tagged ‘Suspense’

The Rag Doll Plagues

November 28, 2012

Title: The Rag Doll Plagues

Author: Alejandro Morales

Genre: Fiction, magic realism, historical, sci-fi, Chicano lit

Publisher: Arte Publico Press: Houston

Number of Pages: 200

Date of Publication: 1992

Geographic Setting: Spain, Mexico, California, Lamex

Time Period: 1788-1792, modern day, 2050

Summary: The plague called La Mona (what we would call AIDS today) is sweeping through Mexico during its colonial period, and no one knows what to do. The King of Spain sents his physician, Dr. Gregorio Revueltas, to try and help the colonists. Interwoven is the story of a doctor in California who falls in love with a woman who contracts AIDS from a blood transfusion; and the future story of Lamex, a collaborative state combining Mexico and the Southwest USA: where the people who once lived in Mexico City may finally develop the cure for the plague. The whole book is one cycle, as the main characters of books two and three are descended from the physician of the first, and that the spirit of the doctor returns to help guide them to the cure.

Subject Headings: communicable diseases–fiction

Appeal: drama, disease study, dystopian world, suspense, contemporary, Chicano, alternative history, deep, detailed, culture study, folk medicine, terse writing

My Three Appeal Terms: culture, detailed, disease study

Recommended Nonfiction Authors:

Santeria:The Religion: Faith, Rites, Magic by Migene Gonzales-Wippler. World Religion and Magic Series, 2002.
An in-depth look at Santeria, a religion that combines Catholicism and Yoruba African deities into a spell-binding package. Chosen because it plays a major role in Dreaming in Cuban.

The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani. Norton W. W. & Company. 2008.
An unconventional look into AIDS from angles people might not have considered, including political and autobiographic viewpoints. A little graphic in parts, but not meant to be gratuitous. Chosen because it deals with the main subject of Rag Doll.

Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx by Sam Quinones. University of New Mexico Press, 2001.
A book of nonfiction vignettes about contemporary Mexico collected while reporting in the area. Chosen for subject area and general format, as well as for setting, which ties it to the other recommended books.

Recommended Fiction Authors:

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. Ballatine Books: New York. 1992.
A family split by the revolution in Cuba and each takes their own way in life. Chosen because it falls under Latin American literature and history. It also is cyclically written and detailed in its settings like Rag Doll. Recommended for those who want another view on Hispanic culture, modern history or religion.

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Perfection Learning 1995.
The youngest daughter of a Mexican woman in the 20th century tries to find true love and independence from her overbearing mother and the rule that the youngest daughter cannot marry. Chosen because it is cyclical, deals with family and is extremely detailed. Recommended for those who like cooking, romance, history, culture and for those who like to get angry when they read ( trust me, you will!)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Harper Perenial Modern Classics: New York. 2006.
A cyclical view of the mythical town of Macondo, as told by the Buendia family. Chosen for being in the canon of Latin American Literature and lush, detailed settings. For those who like drama, family and Latin American culture studies.

Name: Jennifer

Thirteen Reasons Why

October 3, 2012

Author: Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Genre: YA; Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: January 2008

Number of Pages: 288 pages

Geographical Setting: Most likely a small town in the USA

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Clay Jenkins comes home from school one day to a box full of tapes. As he listens to them he hears the voice of Hannah Barker, the girl who took her life a few weeks back. On the tapes are thirteen people who played a role in Hannah’s decision to take her life and she wants them to know why. Each person on Hannah’s list will receive these tapes and have to listen to her story and their role in it. Clay is distraught and can’t believe he is on these tapes, he shouldn’t be on them, he liked Hannah and even had a crush on her. Throughout the book Clay walks the streets of his town to places Hannah mentions on the tapes and listens to the events that lead up to her suicide. Suspensefully written and full of emotions and detailed characters, this book gives you a look at high school life for teenagers, the struggles they face and the real life decisions some teens make.

Subject Headings: Suicide Victims, Rape, Emotions in teenagers, guilt, suicide, interpersonal relations, tapes, high schools, schools, teenage boys

Appeal: Suicide, Relationships, Dual Narratives, High School, Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Drama, Character Driven, Emotional, Present Day, Fast-Paced, Small Towns

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Suicide, Suspense, High School

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.Dear bully: Seventy authors tell their stories (Sep 2011)

For anyone interested in hearing more stories about bulling and how it affects others. These authors of teen and young adult literature share their own stories about bullying from all sides of the issue.

2. Secrets girls keep: What girls hide (& why) and how to break the stress of silence (Nov 2009) by Carrie Silver-Stock

Thirteen Reasons Why centered around Hannah Bakers’ decision to take her own life and the stresses faced by teenage girls. In this book, teenage girls can find answers to questions about daily life as a teen. Topics covered in this book include; drug use, Internet, making friends, boyfriends, school and grades, depression and more.

3. Teen Suicide (Aug 2011) By Lorena Huddle

The main subject of Thirteen Reasons Why was teenage suicide. In this book we get an overview of the causes, risks, prevention, intervention and how to cope with a suicide.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Looking for Alaska (Mar 2005) by John Green

Like Thirteen Reasons Why, this book tell of a young boy who falls for a girl whose death will leave unanswered questions. Throughout the book, one main character searches for answers dealing with life and death.

2. Why we broke up (Dec 2011) By Daniel Handler

For anyone looking for answers as to why something happened, check out Why we broke up. Why we broke up tells the story of a 16 year old girl who writes a letter to her ex-boyfriend explaining why they broke up. Along with the letter she includes a box of items that will help tell the story and why the relationship ended. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah gives tapes to the people who played a part in her decision to take her life. She tells her story and reasons why through the tapes.

3. Hate List (Sep 2009) By Jennifer Brown

After the school shooting by her boyfriend, Valerie realizes that the people targeted during the shooting were on the Hate list. A list she helped create with her boyfriend. Now she is struggling with the last year of high school and her relationships with those around her as she tries to deal with feelings of guilt and her role in the shooting. Like Thirteen Reasons Why, there was a list and the people on this list played a role in the decision to take a life.

Name: Madison Gailus

Last Rituals

October 3, 2012

Author: Sigurdardottir, Yrsa

Title: Last Rituals: a Novel of Suspense

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 314

Geographical Setting: Reykjavik, Iceland

Time Period: 2000’s

Series: A Soul To Take: a Novel of Iceland- second novel after Last Rituals about the lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir who becomes a private investigator.

Plot Summary: The author was named by the English Telegraph: “Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson,” and it is undeniably one of the best books about witchcraft and crime set in 21st century. Harold is a wealthy German exchange student living in Iceland. Obsessed with witch hunting, torture, Medieval and Renaissance spells and exorcisms, he is brutally murdered while working on his master’s thesis. The macabre scenes and occultism of circumstances of the murder are the reason for a deeper private investigation. The main character Thora, the young, divorced mother of two, struggling with financial crisis, decides to take over the case encouraged by the money proposed by the German student’s family. The intelligent, witty, and very sympathetic woman takes an offer determined to uncover the murder behind shadowy Icelandic history, together with her new, handsome and sophisticated German colleague, sent by the family of dead student. The romance, in spite of the story plot – the humor, reality of modern Iceland, sufficiently researched and shocking history of sorcery and inquisition in the Nordic country- makes it an intriguing read you don’t want to end.

Subject Headings: Murder Investigation, Occultism, Witchcraft, Women Lawyers, Scandinavia, Nordic Noir, Reykyavik, Iceland.

Appeal: atmospheric and provoking; Iceland’s dark medieval past; spells; brutality; sorcery; shocking action-oriented storyline; modern murder history; compelling; realistic characters; multilayered plot; contemporary Iceland; perfectly paced narrative.

Three Terms for Book: sharp and penetrating suspense novel, evocative and compelling Icelandic past, and chilling page-turner.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. Indridason,      Arnaldur, Jar City – The Reykjavik detective      uncovers the unsolved mystery from forty years ago with modern techniques      in criminology and genetics. Suspenseful, intelligent, compelling, and      well paced mystery fiction. The 2002 Nordic Crime Novel Award.
  2. Lackberg,      Camilla, The Ice Princess – This      chilly and character driven mystery fiction from Sweden is the first of two      volumes about solving the serial crimes by Erica, who is a writer and her      future husband, Swedish policeman. Dark, psychological portrays and      descriptive insights of the characters. Another great translation after      Stieg Larsson novels by Henning Mankell.
  3. Larsson,      Asa, – Until the Wrath Be Past – Fast      paced, Suspenseful, Swedish Fiction. Remarkable story about the human      desires and its consequences. Two women, the inspector and the prosecutor      are going back in time to the small Swedish village during the WWII to      unsolved complex mystery. Super natural elements are in consequence      original and engrossing.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

  1. Brown,      Nancy Marie, The Far Traveler:      Voyages of a Viking WomanAdventure      and History Nonfiction piece of writing about the Viking saga heroine.      With the support of technological innovations in modern archeological      world, the author discovers truths from the past worthy of a historical      novel award.
  2. Gaskill,      Malcolm, Witchcraft – a Very Short      Introduction – The history of witch hunting, paganism, and Goddess      religion are only further encouragement to discover this surprisingly and      striking piece of the past, which still nowadays is a world-wide      phenomenon.
  3.   Holm,      Bill, The Windows of Brimnes-an      American in Iceland – author and the American essayist, explores the      Icelandic ancestors in his hometown in Minnesota, later on to travel and      live in little cottage in northern Iceland. Descriptive, sharp and      provocative essays about life in America      and Iceland.



Smoke Screen

May 26, 2010

Author: Sandra Brown

Title: Smoke Screen
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 398
Geographical Setting: Charleston, SC
Time Period: Present Day
Series: No
Plot Summary: In this gripping romantic thriller, local newswoman Britt Shelley wakes up to find her friend and occasional lover Jay Burgess dead. Authorities suspect foul play, and Britt suddenly turns from news star into news story. Raley Gannon is Jay’s childhood best friend whose life was derailed in a circumstance similar to Britt’s, when he was found in bed with a dead woman five years before Jay’s death.  The two find themselves in a race to find out what happened to Jay, and just what, if anything, the two deaths have to do with a devastating fire at the Charleston Police Department. Romance and suspense blend together as Raley and Britt encounter a slew of nefarious characters and a major twist that will shock even astute readers.
Subject Headings: Murder, Police Investigations, Charleston, SC, Romantic Suspense, Relationships
Appeal: Plot-centered, fast paced, romantic, suspenseful, action-oriented, racy, edgy, direct, tense, quirky secondary characters, plot twists, conversational style.
Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: fast paced, suspense, racy
Similar Works:
Amber Beach, Elizabeth Lowell (suspense, contemporary romance, adventure scenes)
Mercy, Julie Garwood (suspense, contemporary romance, fast-paced, female protagonist, Southern setting)
Raven on the Wing, Kay Hooper (romantic suspense, contemporary setting, strong female protagonist)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt (murder, Southern setting, eccentric secondary characters)
Devil in the White City, Erik Larson (suspense, murder, fast paced)
My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Handler (racy, adventures, strong female protagonist)

A Blessed Event

November 4, 2009

Title: A Blessed Event

Author: Jean Reynolds Page

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Lives

Geographical Setting: Smalltown Texas

Time Period: 1974-1977, 1983, 1988 (Epilogue)

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Childhood friends Joanne (Jo) Timbro and Darla Stevens are challenged by Darla, and her husband Cal’s, fertility problems. Together, the two women decide that Cal will impregnate Jo the old-fashioned way, and then Cal and Darla will raise the child. Everything seems to be working as planned, until the night Joanne’s car veers off the road and into Darla and Cal’s bedroom wall. Jo, severely injured, is brain dead. Five months pregnant, she lays in the hospital bed in a coma. Distraught and afraid for the life of her child, Darla finds herself in a court battle, with consequences she never imagined coming to light. Darla’s best friend from high school, Sean, is a Catholic priest, and the one person Darla knows she can depend on. Relationships are not always what they seem to be during times of crisis, and Darla must make heart-wrenching decisions about her best friend, her marriage, and the future of her baby. The date-stenciled chapter flashbacks offer readers insight into Joanne and Darla’s friendship during high school, and the secrets they shared, and a few they kept from one another. A Reader’s Guide (a conversation with the author) and Reading Group Questions are also offered in the back of the book.

Subject Headings: Best friends, Women and friendship, Marriage, Husband and wife, Infertility, Childlessness, Motherhood, Surrogacy, Extramarital relations, Interpersonal triangles, Traffic accidents, Brain injuries, Coma patients, Child custody, Family secrets, Family relationships, Mothers and daughters, Ethics, Law, Family Planning, Suicide, Secrets, Custody, Infidelity, Love, Father and daughter, Coming of Age, Moral issues

Appeal: Hopeful, Sympathetic, Melodramatic, Obsession, Suspense, Heartache, Intimate, Powerful, Mysterious, Riveting, Compelling, Heartbreaking, Family oriented

Three terms that best describe this book: Intriguing, Sympathetic, Psychologically Suspenseful

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Origin of Haloes (2005) by Den Hartog Pregnant, sixteen-year-old gymnast Kay Clancy marries her high-school sweetheart, Joe LeBlanc, although he is not the father of her child, an action that has profound repercussions years later when Joe mysteriously vanishes. An excellent read-alike that involves family, secrets, and repercussions.

In Another Man’s Bed (2007) by Francis Ray — Justine is forced to make a difficult choice between her adulterous husband, left comatose following a devastating car accident, his supportive mother, and the old flame who has just walked back into her life. An awesome tie-in to A Blessed Event, with a twist.

Family Secrets (2007) by Judith Henry Wall Two bombshells fall on Vanessa, Ellie and Georgiana the night of their mother’s 60th birthday: widowed mom Penelope is moving to France with a man they’ve never met, and they learn their paternal grandmother did not die in childbirth as they’d been told all their lives. Families, like friends, often have secrets that change everyone involved, much like the lives of the characters in A Blessed Event.

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Surrogacy Was the Way (2006) by Zara Griswold — Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their Stories documents the true stories of twenty women who had children via surrogacy. Surrogacy is a complete possibility in today’s day and age, but anyone considering this route to parenthood should know the pros and cons. The women featured go to surrogacy for a variety of reasons, ranging from Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) to cancer to unexplained infertility and everything in between. An excellent tie-in to A Blessed Event and the real life experiences of mothers and surrogate relationships.

Management of Post-mortem Pregnancy: Legal And Philosophical Aspects (2006) by Daniel Sperling — Recent advances in medical technology have provided healthcare staff with the possibility of maintaining the life of a brain-dead pregnant woman on life-support in order to achieve successful delivery of the fetus. Covers the topics found in A Blessed Event: the moral, legal, psychological, religious, spiritual and physical aspects of the question on the interests of dead people, as well as the jurisprudential question of the fetus’ interests.

The Fabric of Friendship: Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women’s Relationships (2006) by Joy Carol — Explores the emotional hurdles that women face in their relationships. The Fabric of Friendship reveals a simple truth: friendship is never simple. This work of fiction connects and enlightens readers as they reflect on the friendship between Darla and Jo in A Blessed Event.

Name: Maurine

Two Little Girls in Blue

October 7, 2009

Author:  Mary Higgins Clark

Title:  Two Little Girls in Blue

Genre:  Suspense

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  North Carolina and Cape Cod

Time Period:  Present Day

Series (If applicable): NA

Plot Summary:  Two three-year-old twin girls are kidnapped the night of their third birthday party while their parents are at a black tie affair.  The babysitter is left unconscious and the children are gone.  The kidnappers leave a ransom note for eight million dollars on the girls’ bed.  The local police along with the FBI are now on the case looking for the mastermind of the kidnapping who calls himself the Pied Piper and his or her accomplices.  The ransom money is paid and at the time when the twins are to be rescued only one of the twins is recovered and the authorities think the other is dead.  When the rescued twin starts to show signs and experience things that are happening to the other twin, there is a renewed hope that she is really alive.  They race against time to find the missing twin and the kidnappers.

Subject Headings: Twin sisters, Twins, Three-year-old girls, Kidnapping, Girl kidnap victims, Missing girls, Ransom, Suicide, Suicide notes, Murder, FBI agents, Telepathy, Missing Persons investigation,  Mistaken identity

Appeal:  Fast- paced, suspenseful, simple, realistic, mystery, gentle, chilling

3 Terms that best describes this book:  Suspense, Twins, Character-Driven

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

3 Non-fiction Works – Works about twins.

It’s Twins!: Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy through Adolescence by Susan Heim – Advice for raising twins from birth to adolescence.

Twin Telepathy: The Psychic Connection by Guy Lyon Playfair – case histories, research studies and provocative explanations regarding telepathy between twins.

Twins: And What They Tell Us About Who We Are by Lawrence Wright – outlines the newest research being conducted regarding twins, describing how separated-twin studies have thrown open the door on the nature-vs.-nurture debate.

3 Fiction Works – Works about very young girls who go missing.

Vanished by Karen Robards -Ten years after her five-yearold daughter disappears without a trace, Sarah Mason receives a phone call from a child with her daughter’s fiveyearold voice, causing Sarah to turn in desperation to private investigator Jake Hogan.

Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon – Guiltily joining the investigation into a kidnapping she failed to recognize, Rhonda endeavors to identify an elusive child snatcher and finds herself haunted by the disappearance of a childhood friend years earlier.

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond – Photographer Abby Mason’s life is changed forever by the disappearance of the young girl with whom she had been walking on a cold and foggy beach, and her desperate search for the truth behind the child’s vanishing.

Name: Chris S.

The Rossetti Letter

February 18, 2009

Author: Christi Phillips

Title: The Rossetti Letter

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 383

Geographical Setting: United States, Venice Italy

Time Period: Present and early 1600’s

Plot Summary: Claire Donovan has been hard at work on her thesis only to find that it might be for absolutely nothing. She has her theories on the little-researched mystery of a courtesan who saved her country by exposing the Spanish plot to overthrow Venice. Claire thinks that Alessandra was a heroine that was overlooked when it came to her part in saving her country and plans on presenting her as a heroine through her research. In order to find out if her fear of research being rendered useless she ends up traveling to Venice……….as the chaperone of a teenager. While Claire encounters new relationships, mysteries, and situations that she never would have imagined existed for her. We also see the mystery of who Alessandra was and what made her life exciting, dangerous, and what led her to save her country. With alternating plot-lines the reader is kept in suspense and wonder while we follow our main character unraveling the mystery she is basing her career on.

Subject Headings: Venice (Italy)—History — 1508-1979, Courtesans, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Letters, Political Conspiracies, Woman Scholars, Investigations, Dissertation Writing, Historians, British Historians.

Appeal: intriguing; romantic; adventurous; fast-paced; suspenseful; character driven; dramatic; plot twists; resolved ending; scenic; accurate; parallel stories of past/present; historical details; details of dissertation writing, details of Venice past and present, details of women’s lives in 17th century Venice, details of researching special texts/documents; investigative

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown: adventure in Italy, historical references, research references, plot against authority, investigative, fast-paced.

Vivaldi’s Virgins, by Barbara Quick: historical Venice (18th century), uncovering mystery of female character, Venetian society, self-discovery.

The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber: Conspiracy, historical items/research, investigative, historical, a little romance, adventure.

Non-Fiction: The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice by Margaret F. Rosenthal: part of “Women in Culture and Society Series”, life of courtesan’s and one of the most famous one’s in history. The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice by Guido Ruggiero: discusses the society’s views on sex, marriage, dishonor and social levels of Venice. Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State 1297-1797 by John Jeffires Martin, John Martin and Dennis Romano: discusses the Spanish Conspiracy, was used by the author for research.

Name: Emily