Posts Tagged ‘unaffected’

The Boys on the Rock

April 11, 2012

Author: John Fox

Title: The Boys on the Rock

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 146p.

Geographical Setting: Bronx, N.Y.

Time Period: 1968

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: It’s 1968 in the Bronx and Catholic High School sophomore, swim team star, and narrator Billy Connor is gay and knows it and likes it.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to explore his sexuality in very frequent, detailed, creative, and enthusiastic masturbation sessions that the reader will come to know very well.  Billy, not wanting to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, is a Gene McCarthy supporter who meets Al, the head of the local McCarthy campaign office.  Canvassing soon leads to lingering dinners at a pizzeria, which leads to making out, which of course leads to the sex that Billy has longed for.  Billy is very talented in graphic and detailed accounts of his and Al’s lovemaking, leaving not a thing to the reader’s imagination.  While Billy feels newly free and empowered by his relationship with Al, is it really love?  And is it a love that will last?  With the tumultuous Democratic presidential primary and a colorful cast of neighborhood friends and eccentrics as a constant backdrop, Billy brings the reader along for the first few baby steps he will take onto the path that will lead him to the man he will become.

Subject Headings: Coming of age stories, Gay teenagers, Eroticism, U.S. history–1968, Presidential elections–1968, First love, Homosexuality, Graphic sex–homosexual, Graphic sex–heterosexual, Political assassination, Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Bronx, Competitive swimming, Catholic school, Homophobia, Nostalgia, Masturbation.

Appeal: Quick-paced, bittersweet, candid, passionate, adolescent, horny, dramatic, edgy, sexual, graphic, gritty, impassioned, nostalgic, naive, sensual, romantic, unpretentious, foul-mouthed, colorful, unrelenting, rebellious, melancholy, vivid, sexually explicit, steamy, issue-oriented, introspective, retrospective, political, historical detail, urban, colloquial, dialect, direct, unaffected, hormonal, empowering, gay, sweaty, messy, intimate, personal discovery, sexual discovery.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: adolescent, gritty, sexually explicit.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano

The Joy of Lesbian Sex: A Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle by Dr. Emily L. Sisley and Bertha Harris

Yes, I know three books are not one book, but I feel I must evoke an “apples and oranges” (and “pears”[?]) exception in this case.  For people that may find appeal in any of these works, two titles will be completely useless (sort of) to them.  And the goal is to be able to satisfy 100% of readers, yes?

There is so much graphic sex and language in Boys that it would seem almost impossible that a reader wouldn’t take some stock of their own romantic life at some point.  These seminal, highly respected, and somewhat clinical works are certainly the “safe” and “tasteful” (yet graphically illustrated) suggestions that could be a stepping off point for a reader who may want to explore better or newer ways in which to get their freak on.

Time 1968: War Abroad, Riots at Home, Fallen Leaders and Lunar Dreams

The United States +1968= CRAZY: MLK shot, RFK shot, protests, race riots, political riots, cities on fire, Vietnam, Tet Offensive, Chicago Democratic Convention (police beatings and rioting and the MC5, for those too young), drugs, sex, rock and roll, men on the moon—and those are just the headlines.

While the rebellion, protest, and awakening of Billy’s 1968 took place mostly in his head and underwear, there is much happening around him that will inform a bevvy of decisions, political and not.  Here is an overview of that year with lots of color pictures.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

One year later from Billy’s awakening, the gay community of Greenwich Village rose up against police harassment to spark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  I can vividly picture Billy chanting slogans and punching cops in the face.  Here is a timeline of the events leading up to, and the riots themselves, as well as the aftermath.  This comprehensive account is the result of hundreds of interviews, public and sealed files, and a decade of research.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Forever by Judy Blume

If one took a plot synopsis of Boys and replaced the Bronx with a woodsy, well-to-do suburb, and weekends of beer in the park with ski trips, and animalistic gay sex with meticulously thought-out hetero sex, and Billy with a Katherine, and a cowardly Al with an impossibly sensitive Michael and then washed everyone’s mouths out with soap, one would be left holding a copy of Forever. Had those who have taken the often challenged Forever (ALA 7th all-time) to trial had known that Boys may have been right around the corner, I shudder to think at the number of libraries that may have burned.  While certainly trying to please entirely different audiences, these two books are identical thematically, giving Forever large appeal to the reader who may have picked up Boys hoping for a sentimental tale of teenage sexual awakening, but just not as sticky.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Luckily for the high-school kids that populate Boy Meets Boy, Levithan has created a bizarro-world town where there is no prejudice of any sort, especially sexual.  This bodes well for a school that features a Harley riding cheerleading squad and a cross-dressing star quarterback/Homecoming Queen.  The book centers on Paul, who thinks he finally may have found true love in Noah.  Simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, Levithan brilliantly illustrates that freed of the burden of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance these are just kids, whatever their sexual orientation, awkwardly trying to find their place in the world and maybe a little happiness, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 by D.L. King, Giselle Renarde, Kathleen Warnock and Kirsty Logan

Best Gay Erotica 2011 by Johnny Murdoc, Natty Soltesz, and Rob Wolfsham

Sweet Confessions: Erotic Fantasies for Couples by Violet Blue

Again, I must use the “apples and oranges” rule exception.  For any reader of Boys that enjoyed the very detailed and descriptive sex scenes, here you go: a little something for everyone.

Name: Bill S.

The Committments

March 22, 2012

Author: Roddy Doyle

Title: The Commitments

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 140

Geographical Setting: Dublin, Ireland

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): The Barrytown Trilogy

Plot Summary: When Dublin youths Outspan and Derek decide to start a band, they enlist their friend Jimmy Rabbitte to manage them. Jimmy is that kid everyone knows who has his finger on the pulse of music. “Jimmy had Relax before anyone had heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and he’d started slagging them months before anyone realized that they were no good.” Instead of advising the band (And And! And) to continue doing covers of Depeche Mode songs, or turning them punk or metal or grunge, he goes way back and decides they should be a soul band. He calls it “Dublin Soul”, and surprisingly hits the nail on the head, as it turns out that soul music by African Americans has an appeal for working class Dubliners. The band expands to include Joey “The Lips” Fagan, an aging musician who has played trumpet with most of the bands the young boys are idolizing, Deco Cuffe, a talented singer with a large ego, and cute background singers The Commitmentettes. The band starts small, and then start to build a loyal following. Just when a record deal is about to be signed, the band pulls apart from ego, the saxophone player’s growing interest in jazz, and everyone wanting to get with the cutest Commitmentette. This charming coming of age novel hits that point of time when nothing else matters except the music that hits you hard. Woven into the humor is the fervor the love of music can inspire, along with philosophical musings about what soul music is really about. The Commitments also lays the groundwork for the next two books, which become increasingly personal and bittersweet as the series goes on.

Subject Headings: Working class teenagers — Dublin Ireland. Soul Music. Rock Music. Egotism in teenagers. Ambition in teenagers.

Appeal: funny, strong sense of place, dialect-rich, engaging, character-driven, colorful, urban, quirky, strong secondary characters, breezy, direct, jargon, unaffected, exuberant, impassioned, playful, eccentric, unpretentious.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: dialect-rich, strong sense of place, engaging

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick

Someone who wants to learn more about soul music might enjoy this history of Stax Records, the company that signed many of the rhythm and blues singers that the Commitments are trying to emulate. Guralnick gets deep into not just the music, but the cultural and racial tensions that tore Stax apart in the end.

Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music by Gerri Hirschey

This book is a bit more narrative than “Sweet Soul Music.” Hirschey compiles oral tellings and recollections gleaned from years of working as a music journalist, and writes with a literary flair. It’s the best of both worlds as it’s both a comprehensive history of soul music interwoven with anecdotes about riding around in a limo with James Brown and Al Sharpton.

Me Father Was a Hero and Me Mother Was a Saint by Eamonn Sheridan

Someone interested in the Irish working class should pick up this memoir. Sheridan’s father fought for the IRA during the War of Independence against the British, then fought for the British army during WWII while his mother raised their 11 kids. Sheridan reminisces living in poverty in Dublin until they were forced to emigrate to England.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Hornby’s Rob Thomas could be the grown up version of Jimmy Rabbit, with a giant record collection, a ready knowledge of all things music, memories of his happiest times being a dj, and his own record store. When Rob questions, “Which came first…the music or the misery?” Jimmy would promptly answer, “the music” because the misery hasn’t sunk in quite yet for him.

Glue by Irvine Welsh

Carl is Jimmy’s Scottish soul mate, going to the record store every week to buy something new, and becoming attracted to an unconventionally pretty (plump) girl because she can talk about music with him. Welsh also has a laser-like sense of place for Edinburgh, Scotland just as Doyle does for Dublin, Ireland, and both have come up with their own killer dialect for their regions.

The Exes by Pagan Kennedy

After Hank and Lilly break up (and are finally back on speaking terms), they come up with a great idea for a band comprised entirely of exes. They enlist Shaz, a talented bass player who brings in her one male ex, Walt to play drums. The band starts to creak as they all want different things for this…Hank wants to find that perfect spot where a band is indie-famous without selling out, Lilly wants to be the next Gwen Stefani, Shaz has been in a major band before and just wants to play for fun, and Walt is simply trying to hold it together as he faces down his demons of depression and anxiety. The Exes are from the east coast, but the final chapter takes place in Chicago as the Exes play the Metro, and Kennedy gets the sense of place just right.

Name: Jessica

The Killer Angels

July 25, 2011

Author: Michael Shaara

Title: The Killer Angels

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1974

Number of Pages: 35

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

Time Period: June 30, 1863 – July 3,1863

Series (If applicable): NA

Plot Summary: Old friends and new enemies face one another across the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during four of the bloodiest days in American history. Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet butt heads over military stratagem as the untried Union regiment, the 20th Maine, led by Joshua L. Chamberlain learn the horrors of the battlefield. An insightful and informative narrative of the men who shaped the events that would turn the tide of a war and determine the fate of a nation.

Subject Headings: Civil War, Gettysburg, America, war stories, soldiers

Appeal: character-driven, strong secondary (characters), historical detail, accurate, descriptive, informative, well-researched, dense, realistic, insightful, unaffected, bleak

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, historical detail, insightful

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg: General Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (first hand account of the Battle of Gettysburg from one of The Killer Angels’ main characters)

Stars in Their Courses by Shelby Foote (study of the 1863 Gettysburg campaign from the perspective of the soldier)

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (one volume narrative account of the American Civil War that interweaves the political, military and social timelines of the Civil War)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Courage on Little Round Top by Thomas Eishen (novel of Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Gettysburg; well-researched, realistic, accurate)

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (a Confederate deserter walks for months to return to the love of his life; character-driven, historical detail, realistic)

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (Persian king Xerxes explores Spartan history and culture through the eyes of the lone Spartan survivor of the Battle of Thermopylae; character-driven, soldiers, realistic, insightful)

Denise Benson

I Say a Little Prayer

June 23, 2010

Title: I Say a Little Prayer

Author: E. Lynn Harris

Genre: GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Atlanta, GA

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: No

Plot Summary:  Chauncey Greer is the owner of a thriving greeting card company in Atlanta. He is a gay African-American man who is also deeply spiritual. While attending Abundant Joy Baptist Church, Chauncey is inspired to reconnect with his dormant singing career.  Pastor Kenneth invites Chauncey to sing at an upcoming gospel revival where Chauncey’s former secret lover (now homophobic keynote preacher) is scheduled to appear.

E. Lynn Harris was best known for his depictions of African-American men on the down low and closeted. In I Say a Little Prayer, he examines the down low practice, ostensibly heterosexual men living secret lives as gay men, and offers insight into the struggle within the black church concerning gay rights.

Subject Headings: Bisexuality, homosexuality, homophobia, identity, social acceptance, African-American churches, fundamentalism, revivals

Appeal:  Easy, fast-paced, candid, flamboyant, humorous, sexually explicit, sensual, sophisticated, urbane, unaffected, engaging, urban, contemporary

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book:  Easy, urban, sexually explicit

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Wrestling with the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men, edited by Brian Bouldrey examines the struggles of faith of 21 gay male writers, including Andrew Holleran, Lev Raphael, and Michael Nava.

One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America by Keith Boykin includes interviews with ministers, gay political leaders, and African American lesbians and gay men to explain misconceptions about gay racism and African American homophobia.

J.L. King, an HIV/STD prevention activist and educator, was one of the first to write about the contemporary phenomena of living on the down low.  In 2003, King’s On the Down Low: a Journey into the Lives of ‘Straight’ Black Men Who Sleep with Gay Men, depicted this “reckless behavior.” It was believed to have caused African-American women to constitute 68 percent of new HIV cases.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

In Michael Ford Thomas’ Last Summer, the protagonist Josh Felling departs for the beaches of Provincetown where he encounters a cast of humorous characters including flamboyant drag queen Emmeline, Hollywood heartthrob Ty Rusk, and wealthy Reilly Brennan.

In the sophisticated novel The Conversion by Joseph Olshan, Russell Todaro, a young American translator and writer, is caught up in two separate affairs — the first, a passionate but doomed romance, and a second with a much older and sensual poet.

Gay Love Stories by Kimberly Burton involve urban characters who seek love and romance, and ultimately lasting relationships.

Jane Bessette

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

June 21, 2010

Fun Home Cover

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir, Gay/Lesbian, Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2006

Geographical Setting: Beech Creek, Pennsylvania

Number of Pages: 240

Time Period: From the early 1960’s through the 1980’s

Series: No

Plot Summary:

The author’s memoir, based heavily on her childhood journal, is the story of the relationship between a girl and her closeted homosexual father. Fun Home is both the local funeral parlor, owned and run by her closeted homosexual father, and the Victorian house where Alison grew up.  The author chronicles her life experiences including her relationship with an aloof and distracted mother, the “maybe” suicide of her father, the realization her father is gay, and the growing awareness and recognition that she is gay as well. This graphic novel is filled with many literary references. Alison Bechdel, a well known cult-favorite comic artist, uses clean pen-and-ink drawings to tell her story.

Subject Headings: Father and daughter, Closet gay, Lesbian teenagers — Coming out, Gay men, Parent and child, Death, Cartoonists, Autobiographies (Adult literature), Graphic novels (Nonfiction), Domestic fiction, Family, Family secrets, Family relationships.

Appeal: Poignant, engrossing, detailed, insightful, introspective, reflective, strong secondary character, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, flashbacks, layered, literary references, sexually explicit drawings, thought-provoking, detailed setting, small-town, candid, contemplative, introspective, reflective, psychological, unaffected, complex relationships, conversational, frank, simple, unpretentious, informative, entertaining

Three Terms that best describe this book: Introspective, Contemplative, Poignant

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Anonymity by Susan Bergman. Bergman intertwines moving ponderings with memories of childhood. Bergman’s father, a closeted homosexual, died of AIDS at the age of 45. His death was preceded by Bergman’s brother three months earlier. Devastated, Bergman, her mother and her two sisters are left behind to pick up the pieces. This book is similar to Fun Home in that it is poignant, engrossing, and character- and family-centered. Like Fun Home, complex relationships and closeted gay fathers figure prominently.

Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag by Ariel Schrag.  The third in a series of three volumes, this memoir follows the author’s senior year of high school. In the graphic novel format, Ariel experiences a tumultuous year that includes pining for an ex-girlfriend, dealing with her parents’ divorce, and discovering the world of James Joyce. This book is similar to Fun Home in that it is a poignant memoir about a lesbian written in graphic novel format. (literary references, character-centered, frank)

Thrumpton Hall:A Memoir of Life in My Father’s House by Miranda Seymour. This memoir is the tale of the Seymour’s family who suffered through their father’s obsession with the family home (a Nottinghamshire estate). At question are her father’s original intentions when marrying Miranda’s mother and his relationships with several young men later in his life. This memoir is similar to Fun Home in that it is about the author’s complex relationship with her (potentially) gay father who has a preoccupation with restoring the family home. (Poignant, introspective, reflective, contemplative)

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction selected by Edmund White; edited by Donald Weise. A compilation of 20 stories that examines a variety of gay experiences including coming out, isolation, integration, and family response. Like Fun Home, this collection is candid, full of complex relationships, and character-centered.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd. The summer before college, 18 year old Dade Hamilton must cope with his parents’ crumbling marriage, a dreary job, his first public relationship, and coming out of the closet. This novel is similar to Fun Home in that it is character-centered, has complex relationships, and is poignant and thought-provoking.

Baby Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing edited by Michelle Tea. A collection of brief works by 22 lesbian essayists that examine coming out and other lesbian/female homosexual cultural issues. The array of essays includes two comic strips. This set of writings is similar to Fun Home in that it is character-centered, insightful, psychological, and sexually explicit.

Name: Laona Fleischer

An Education

June 16, 2010

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Author: Lynn Barber

Title: An Education

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  192

Geographical Setting: London, England; Oxford, England,

Time Period: 1940 – present

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This novel is a charming, funny, and candid memoir from award winning English journalist Lynn Barber, known for her role in the start-up of Penthouse Magazine and as a scathing interviewer with the nickname Demon Barber.  Originally written as short piece for literary magazine Granta, after garnering much interest, including movie producers, Barber expanded the story to encompass her childhood up to the death of her husband.  The memoir is roughly divided into 6 sections: an introduction about the history of the novel including its prior incarnation and the movie, her childhood and background, her May-December relationship, her experiences at college and meeting her husband, her work as a writer and journalist, and the death of her husband.  Barber gives an incredibly detailed and anecdotal sketch of her life which is touching, funny, and incredibly sad.  As stated in the first section of the memoir, the movie, of the same name, is based on the second chapter and was adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby.

Subject Headings:  Biography; Memoir; Coming of age; Family, Relationships, Journalism, Pornography, Feminism, Gender Roles, Parent-Child Relationship, Marriage, May-December Relationship, Death,

Appeal:  easy, leisurely-paced, stately, contemplative, humorous, introspective, unaffected, engaging, charming, details of journalism, direct, informative,

3 terms that best describe this book: graceful, witty, candid

Similar Authors and Works:

Nonfiction

Talking Back: to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels by Andrea Mitchell – A candid and revealing memoir from Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affair Correspondent for NBC over the entirety of her career as a journalist, with special interest paid to the role of her gender and personal relationships.

History of Men’s Magazines: 1960’s at the Newsstand vol. 3 by Dian Hanson – An annotated and illustrated history of men’s magazines in America and the rest of the world during the 1960s, including the start-up of Penthouse Magazine in England.

Younger Women Older Men by Beliza Ann Furman – A practical and straightforward book, written by a female, about the relationship dynamics between older men and younger women, including dealing with power and control issues.

Fiction

Shopgirl by Steve Martin – The story of a lonely shopgirl at Neiman Marcus in LA and her romantic relationship with a man twice her age.  A humorous and introspective novel written with delicacy and charm.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin – The fictional story based on historically accurate facts about Alice Liddel, the child who inspired Alice In Wonderland.  The novel is Alice reflecting on her life including Lewis Carroll’s seemingly inappropriate obsession with 10 year old Alice.  An engaging novel, rich in detail and frame.

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy – The fictional and yet semi-autobiographical story of a young American woman and recent college graduate who moves to Paris in pursuit of excitement and adventure in the late 1950s.  A very funny, charming, and clever novel containing a tremendous amount of historic and geographic frame.

Name:  Summer

Born Standing Up

April 7, 2010


Author: Steve Martin

Title: Born Standing Up

Genre: Autobiography/Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 209

Geographical Setting: Primarily southern California, though the book details the author’s years as a stand up comedian traveling from town to town across the United States.

Time Period:1945-1981

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: Actor and writer Steve Martin looks back at his early career, from his days as a teen employee of Disneyland practicing magic tricks on tourists up to his spectacular success selling out arenas as a stand up comedian. Martin examines his uneasy relationship with his father, a failed actor, which drove him out of his parents house at an early age and into the 1960’s Californian counterculture that shaped his comedy. Much detail is provided about how Martin went about creating his uniquely absurd stand up style, his process of writing and shaping material and ultimately about how his sudden fame lead to his decision to walk away from stand-up at the height of his popularity.

Subject Headings: Stand-Up Comedy, Autobiography, 1960’s, Show Business. California.

Appeal: easy, engrossing, fast-paced, relaxed, Closely observed, detailed, introspective, reflective, quirky, episodic, accurate, detailed setting, details of stand up comedy, comfortable, humorous, lighthearted, philosophical, playful, unaffected, unpretentious, accessible, candid, conversational, literary, sophisticated.

3 terms that best describe this book: Humorous, insightful, nostalgic.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

And Here’s the Kicker Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft by Mike Sacks

Journalist Sacks interviews humorists and comedians on the subject of writing and what it is that separates humor writing from other styles. The book details how writers and performers such as Dick Cavett, Buck Henry, David Sedaris and Bob Odenkirk work, their influences and what they themselves find funny.

Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America by Richard Zoglin

An overview of the world of stand up comedy in 1970’s. The author provides interviews with and brief biographies of many of the most famous and influential comedian of the era including Albert Books, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Andy Kaufman.

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” by David Bianculli

A history of the controversial 1960’s variety show which gave Steve Martin his first writing job. Gaining fame in the folk music scene, Tom and Dick Smothers brought their act to CBS in 1967 only to be essentially run off the air two years later due to increasing pressure on the network from the Nixon White House.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Conversation with the Mann by John Ridley

Set against the backdrop of the early civil rights movement this novel follows a young black stand up comedian on his path to fame. This somber character study evokes the backstage isolation and personal tragedy that is common to many stand up comedians.

Funnymen by Ted Heller

This novel, told in the style of an oral history, chronicles the ups and downs of a Martin and Lewis style comedy team. Secondary characters are given the opportunity to tell their recollections of the duo’s career. A funny and entertaining behind the scenes show business story.

Milt & Marty: The Longest Lasting & Least Successful Comedy Writing Duo In Show Biz History by Tom Leopold and Bob Sand

A young writing team arrives in Los Angeles to pitch ideas to the show business machine when they meet up with Milt and Marty, a hopelessly unsuccessful septuagenarian writing duo. Milt and Marty attach themselves to the young writers’ ascending career in an attempt to finally get the success they have longed for.

Name: Kris

Three Bags Full

March 17, 2010

Author: Leonie Swann

Title: Three Bags Full

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 341

Geographical Setting: Glennkill, a fictional village in Ireland

Time Period: Present day (although sheep can’t possibly be expected to pay attention to such little details as time!)

Plot Summary: What’s a sheep to do? With the discovery of their shepherd, George Glenn, murdered, this crafty flock of sheep decides to take the investigation into their own hands (hoofs). Before George’s murder, the sheep lead a quiet, peaceful existence filled with casual grazing and romance stories. After George’s murder, the sheep must overcome their fears of humans to figure out the who’s, what’s, and why’s, because the humans are not equipped to handle this serious matter—they don’t even have the proper sense of smell! Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill and possibly the world, each sheep uses his or her special talents to examine the evidence, observe the suspects, and try to discover the murderer’s identity. This quirky and charming take on the classic whodunit sweeps the reader up into the shady world of the seemingly picturesque Glennkill, as the sheep collect the clues and avert the dangers that still lurk in the shadows. The sheep quickly discover that not every human (or sheep!) is who he or she seems, and nothing is simple in this small village. Told from the perspective of the sheep, the investigation takes many twists and turns as the sheep try to understand George’s death and the human world. An eccentric, intriguing mystery that has a great amount of literary allusions (for example, Miss Maple the sheep is strikingly similar to Miss Marple, a recurring character in Agatha Christie’s crime mystery series), the sheep must see people for who and what they really are to figure out what really happened to George.

Subject Headings: Shepherds; Sheep; Talking animals; Murder investigation; Ireland; Mystery stories, German; German fiction — 21st century

Appeal: eccentric, engaging, multiple points of view, quirky, well-developed characters, plot twists, folksy, investigative, literary references, multiple plot lines, resolved ending, rural setting, small-town, atmospheric, homespun, gentle, witty, playfully philosophical, unpretentious, upbeat, unaffected, colorful

3 terms that best describe this book: gentle mystery, eccentrically fun, surprising plot twists

Similar Authors and Works:

Non-Fiction

Inside the Animal Mind: A Groundbreaking Exploration of Animal Intelligence by George Page: Wonder what sheep are really thinking? This nonfiction book will help the reader who is interested in how an animal really thinks.

The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland by Christopher Fitz-Simon: Glennkill is one of the most beautiful (fictional) villages in Ireland. This book will help give the reader a better idea of what exactly an Irish village looks like.

The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of A K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective by Kathy Albrecht: A perfect read for the reader who wants to learn more about real animals who solve crimes.

Fiction

Basket Case by Carl Hiassen: For those who enjoy a witty writing style and lighter tone when reading a mystery, Hiassen’s novel provides quick-witted banter with socio-political undertones wrapped up in a murder whodunit.

Funny Bones: 15 New Tales of Murder and Mayhem edited by Joan Hess: Murder with a side of funny, this collection of stories will entice the reader who loves the tongue-in-cheek, humorous tone of Swann’s work.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: Told from the perspective of an autistic boy, this murder mystery provides the same outsider perspective as Swann’s sheep mixed with dark humor.

Name: Jessica Coates

Hot Tamara

November 18, 2009

Author: Mary Castillo

Title: Hot Tamara

Genre: Latina, Romance

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 246

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: Present Day

Series: There is a companion book entitled In Between Men

Plot Summary: From the outside it looks like Tamara has the perfect life: loving parents, perfect boyfriend, and a teaching job, but in reality Tamara is miserable. She feels like her parents are dictating her life, she doesn’t love her boyfriend anymore, and she hates her job. She surprises everyone by moving to L.A. and working in an art gallery in an attempt to get into a master’s program in museum studies, and hoping to open her own art gallery someday. While there she runs into Will, a high school classmate that she’s always had the hots for. He’s a firefighter by day and artist by night and Tamara is head over heels, but she doesn’t know how to balance her career dreams with the love of her life.

Subject Headings: Mexican American women –Fiction. Art galleries, Commercial –Employees –Fiction. Mexican American artists –Fiction. Women immigrants –Fiction. Fire fighters –Fiction. First loves –Fiction. Los Angeles (Calif.) –Fiction.

Appeal: easy, eccentric characters, engaging, quirky, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, resolved ending, sexually explicit, steamy, contemporary, urban, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, playful, romantic, unaffected, upbeat, chatty, passionate

3 terms that best describe this book: romantic, eccentric characters, steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Titles

Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdez-Rodriguez – Six friends meet every six months to catch up (funny examination of Latina women and their love lives)

Engaging Men by Lynda Curnyn –Angie is convinced she is the warm up girlfriend as her last three exs have gotten married to their next girlfriend. (Another look at career ambitions and boyfriends)

Imaginary Man by Anjali Banerjee— Matchmaker Lina makes up a boyfriend to please her parents, but finds herself falling for the guy she based the boyfriend on (an Indian take on dealing with family and relationships)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Titles

Wonder Woman: the Life and Times of the Amazon Princess by Les Daniels – Everything you could ever want to know about this iconic superhero (Tamara constantly wonders what Wonder Woman would do in her situation)

Latino Arts and Their Influence on the United States by Rory Makosz – explains how Latino artists have influenced U.S. pop culture (For those interested in reading more about Latino artists)

Scandals, Vandals, and DaVincis: a Gallery of Remarkable Art Tales by Harvey Rachlin – tells the back story on many famous pieces of art (For those interested in galleries and art)

Name: Elizabeth

The Shack

April 14, 2009

Author: William P. Young
Title: The Shack
Genre: Literary Fiction; Inspirational
Publication Date: 2007
Number of Pages: 256
Geographical Setting: American Northwest; Multnomah Falls and Wallowa Lake, Oregon
Time Period: c.2003-2007
Plot Summary: While on a family vacation, Mack Philips youngest daughter is abducted by a serial killer. Her body is never found, but investigators find a shack where they are certain her murder took place. Three and a half years later, still grieving and unable to move past his daughter’s death, Mack receives a note from God in his mailbox asking him to return to the shack. Uncertain about who the note is from, but still drawn to the crime scene, Mack goes to the shack alone where he meets God as the three manifestations of the Trinity.
Subject Headings: Life change events – Fiction; Missing children – Fiction; Oregon – Fiction; Religious fiction; Suspense fiction; God (Christianity); Loss (Psychology); Suffering – Religious Aspects – Christianity; Family relationships; Theodicy; Belief and doubt; Murder – Religious aspects
Appeal: deliberate, measured, steady, unhurried, detailed, distant, engaging, evocative, familiar, insightful, inspiring, interior, intriguing, introspective, lifelike, sympathetic, vivid, well-developed, well-drawn, character-centered, complex, inspirational, mystical, open-ended, thought-provoking, tragic, contemporary, detailed setting, evocative, intimate, lush, rural, timeless, atmospheric, bittersweet, candid, comtemplative, dramatic, earnest, elegiac, heartwarming, hopeful, melancholy, philosophical, theological, psychological, thoughtful, accessible, conversational, fervent, natural, passionate, unaffected, didactic.
Similar Authors and Works (Fiction):
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory. Conversations with God, belief, doubt, faith, Christianity, didactic, inspirational, theological.
Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. Loss, grief, Christianity, psychological, belief, doubt, faith, spirituality.
Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause. Family relationships, grief, belief, doubt, faith, religion, loss, psychological, poignant.
Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction):
Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan D. Chittister. Chittister, a Catholic nun, describes how she learns from a major disappointment in her life. Spirituality, religion, suffering, hope, life change events.
The Doors of the Sea: where was God in the Tsunami? by David Bentley Hart. A Theologian reconciles the problem of evil through the focus of the 2004 Christmas Tsunami. Theodicy, faith, belief, doubt, loss, grief.
The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. Lewis’ classic treatise on why God allows suffering. Pain, suffering, theodicy, spirituality.
Name: Tori