Posts Tagged ‘uneasy’

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

November 7, 2012

devilwhitecitycoverAuthor: Erik Larson

Title: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Genre:Adult books for young adults; History Writing; True Crime

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 447

Geographical Setting: Chicago, IL

Plot Summary: While the architect David Burnham and his colleagues labored tirelessly to design the spectacular World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, a man by the name of H.H. Holmes used the distraction of the fair to erect his own World’s Fair Hotel and lure victims under his guise as a charming doctor to their gruesome deaths. Larson alternates the stories of the architect and the serial killer to create one compelling tale of the effects of the World’s Fair on the city of Chicago and the underlying evil that lurked right in the midst of the excitement.

Subject Headings: Mudgett, Herman W. 1861-1896. Burnham, Daniel Hudson, 1846-1912. Serial murderers – Illinois – Chicago – Biography. Serial murders – Illinois – Chicago – Case studies. World’s Columbian Exposition (1893; Chicago, Ill.)

Appeal: Compelling, historical details, well-researched, suspenseful, disturbing, gritty, detailed setting, uneasy, character-centered, engrossing, psychological

Three appeal terms:  Historical details, well-researched, compelling

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

City for Ransom by Robert W. Walker

City for Ransom is a fictional tale of a killer on the loose during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Inspector Alastair Ransom must locate the killer who is using the bustling fairgrounds as a distraction to get away with murder, before the inspector becomes a victim himself.

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas J. Preston

For readers who like a suspenseful read about a serial killer, I suggest The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas J. Preston. It’s written in a gritty style similar to The Devil in the White City, and details a copycat serial killer who begins overtaking New York City using methods similar to that of a killer in the 1880s. Together, FBI agent Pendergast, journalist Bill Smithback, and archaeologist Nora Kelly work to solve the case – and keep themselves alive.

Wakefield by Andrei Codrescu

Readers who enjoyed the architectural aspects of the Devil in the White City might enjoy this story of an architecture enthusiast who winds up on a journey to understand his purpose in life and continue to explore his love of architecture.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The World’s Columbian Exposition: the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 by Norman Bolotin and Christine Laing

I suggest this book to readers who enjoyed reading about the Chicago World’s Fair in The Devil in the White City and are looking to learn more about the fair. This book provides a visual history of the fair with stunning panoramic images of the fair’s splendors, including the landscaping, waterways and gondolas, and the structures that were designed and built just for the fair. The authors cover every concept of the history of the fair from its very beginnings to its lasting impact and all of the details in between.

Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago by Harold Schechter

Those who wish to learn more about notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes can check out this true crime story about the madman who carried out acts of torture and murders in his own “Castle of Horrors.” Schechter chronicles Holmes’ methods of luring victims by posing at different times as a doctor, druggist, and inventor, and the design of his torture chamber that included trapdoors, body chutes, and acid vats.

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War by James Mauro

Readers that enjoyed the history of the Chicago World’s Fair in The Devil in the White City might enjoy reading about another famous fair in history – the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. As Europe prepared for war overseas, the Big Apple prepared to throw a big party, which met with less than stellar success. Mauro recounts the festivities that brought out 45 million people, even among big rain storms, heat waves, and power outages. This book has much of the same historical appeal as The Devil in the White City, but not as strong a focus on the crime scene.

Name: Melissa Apple

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

 

Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic.

November 30, 2011

Author: Bechdel, Alison.

Title:  Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic. 

 Genre:  Autobiographical Graphic Novel; Nonfiction.

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, United States.

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In this autobiographical graphic novel, Alison Bechdel, an author of a long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, draws a darkly funny and emotionally complex picture of her childhood and her coming-out experiences. The central part of this graphic novel focuses on the author’s loving yet ambivalent relationship with his father—a small-town closeted homosexual, a teacher, a funeral-home owner, and an obsessive interior decorator.  The tone of the story ranges from outrageously funny, especially when describing her father’s obsession with house decor, flowers and fashion, to darkly disturbing, when recalling his inappropriate relationships with male students and the effect of his behavior on the author’s mother. The prose is simple, expressive and often filled with references to literary classics, and the art, with its traditional blue, black and white panels, integrates beautifully into a graphically and textually powerful tale of a family marked by love, sadness, repression but also redemption.  For any skeptics of graphic novels, Fun Home should be an example of this format’s potential for expression, beauty and literary value.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novels; Memoir; Coming-Out-Story; Sexual Orientations; Family and Relationships; 1960’s Small Town–Pennsylvania.

Appeal: heartbreaking, darkly funny, thought-provoking, engaging, literary, disturbing, poignant, character-driven, reflective, psychologically complex, moving, witty, uneasy, well-drawn, candid, sympathetic, sexually explicit, family-centered, small-town setting.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: heartbreaking, witty, and literary.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: A compelling and darkly funny tale of an Iranian girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Similarly to Fun Home, it is an autobiographical, character-driven, and textually and visually powerful graphic novel.

2) Epileptic by David B: In this moving graphic novel, the author describes his real-life experiences of growing up with an epileptic brother and how it affected his decision to become a cartoonist.

3) Blankets: an Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson: An autobiographical graphic novel about brothers growing up in a strict, evangelical family and struggling with rivalry, love and doubt.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: the Beauty Supply District by Ben Katchor.  A collection of witty, nostalgic and character-driven graphic strips picturing the experience of Julius Knipl, a real estate photographer, and other mid-century Jewish characters.

2) The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger: A graphic story of a woman who enters a bookmobile that contains every book she has ever read. Like Bechdel’s story, it is character-driven, literary, reflective and stylistically complex

3) Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine:  This graphic novels tells a story of Ben Tanaka, a not entirely sympathetic, twenty-something American-Japanese, searching for his identity and a place in the world by testing sexual, cultural, philosophical and political waters of the contemporary America.

Megan Rosol

The Night Watch (Audio-Unabridged)

November 30, 2011

Author: Waters, Sarah (Narrated by Juanita McMahon)

Title: The Night Watch (Audio-Unabridged)

Genre:  Historical Fiction Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 13 CD Disks

Geographical Setting: London, England

Time period: World War II.

Plot Summary: In this lyrical and structurally complex story, the author describes the atmosphere of the World War II-era London through the experiences of four main characters-Viv, Kay, Helen, and Duncan-and a full set of secondary characters. As the narrative of the book moves backwards from 1947 to 1941, Waters very slowly reveals the details of her characters and their eventual connections through love, hardship and tragedy.  As most of Waters’ books, the story deals with homosexuality and love between women, but it also casts light on the issues of suicide, pacifism, and class and gender roles during that time period. The story does a fine job at showing the physical devastation of the war and the psychological scars caused by betrayal, longing, loss and regret, still the books feels underwhelming when compared to other novels by Sarah Waters.  The backward construction is clever but it also rids the plot of any mystery and greatly slows down the pacing, while the multiplicity of characters decreases their complexity and emotional resonance.  These construction flaws are only underscored by Juanita McMahon’s audio delivery. The narrator tries to differentiate between multiple characters by using different tones and accents but, with a mostly androgynous set of characters, it does not quite work. Also, poor editing and lack of significant pauses make it difficult to keep track of transitions between different people, places and times in the story. Although I am a great proponent of audio books, I feel that this book would be better experienced through reading.

Subject Headings: World War II, 1939-1945 England-London-Fiction; London Bombardment-World War II; Historical Fiction; Psychological Fiction; War Stories; Relationships; Gay and Lesbian Relationships.

Appeal: character-driven, intricately-plotted, relaxed-paced, atmospheric, moody, bleak, compelling, descriptive, lyrical, dark, psychological, uneasy, multiple points of view and plot lines, complex, episodic, layered, historical frame.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: complex, atmospheric, character-driven.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) World War II London Blitz Diary (A Woman’s Revelations Enduring War and Marriage) by Ruby Alice Side-Thompson: An unfiltered account of the destruction and the quality of life during the London Blitz. Also, it is a compelling and dark story of an unhappy marriage, social conventions, and personal loss.

2) London at War, 1939-1945 by Phillip Ziegler: A story about a diverse group of Londoners–men, women, and children, rich and poor, heroes and cowards– living through the London Blitz. Through the use of a rich collection of interviews, diaries, books and newspapers, the author creates a complex and compelling portrait of Londoners during the World War II.

3) Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Man and Women In World War Two by Allan Berube: A comprehensive history of gays’ and lesbians’ involvement in the war, including information on the work opportunities, the relationships, the gender and race relations, and on the impact of the anti-gay laws.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman: A lyrical and complex story about a group of women trying to survive during the first century’s siege of Masada. Similarly to The Night Watch, this novel is rich in historical details, full of diverse characters, layered plot elements, and psychological drama.

2) Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian: A small group of people is fleeing westwards through Europe devastated by World War II. The story is historic in setting, lyrical in language, and addresses similar subject of love and physical and psychological destruction of war.

3) The End of the Affair by Graham Green: Tells a story of an affair during the London Blitz, and the mystery behind the woman’s decision to end the affair. Aside of the similarities in time and setting, the story is also character-driven and deals with relationships and the psychology of love and loss.

Megan Rosol

The Tempest Tales

November 9, 2011

Author: Walter Mosley

Title: The Tempest Tales

Genre: African-American fiction; Psychological fiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 250

Geographical Setting: Harlem, New York City

Time Period: Modern day

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:   Tempest Landry is an African American male who finds himself at the gates of St. Peter after being accidentally shot to death by white police officers in Harlem.  St. Peter believes Tempest has committed enough sins to be condemned to hell.  However, Tempest refuses St. Peter’s judgment and claims his sins were either acts committed surrounding the situation of being an African-American male or that they were not big enough to be taken seriously.  Tempest is supposedly the first soul to ever disagree with St. Peter’s judgment and heaven is quickly turned on its head.  It is decided that Tempest will return to earth in a new body with an angel named Joshua.  Joshua’s goal is to show Tempest he is a
sinner.  It is at this point in the book where Mosley really makes the reader question the ethics of sinning which is done through tongue in cheek dialog between Joshua and Tempest.  Although tackling spiritual issues the book explores philosophical issues as well. Especially after Satan appears demanding Tempest’s soul.  The Satan character is named Bob and happens to be the only main character that is white. This adds an interesting dynamic to the race relations of the main characters of the book.

Subject Headings: African-American men – Death, Racism, Heaven, Soul, Devil, Life after death, Angels, Temptation, Police misconduct, Accidental death, Sin, Fairness, Justice, Injustice, Redemption.

Appeal: Thought Provoking, Fast paced, Builds in intensity, Witty, Evangelistic, Edgy, Sarcastic, Stark, Thoughtful, Uneasy, Flawed, Introspective, Multiple points of view.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Thought provoking, Fast-paced, Witty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B Du Bois. Published in 1903 and is a study of race, culture, and education at the turn of the twentieth century.

Double Take: A Revisionists Harlem Renaissance Anthology, byVenetria Patton.  A selection of texts
from the Harlem Renaissance by men, women, gay, and straight writers of the time.

How Different Religions View Death and Afterlife, by Christopher Jay Johnson.  This book compares 19 different religions and their views on death and the afterlife.  Each chapter is written by a scholar from the religion in which they are discussing.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Kid, by Sapphire. A story of survival of 9 year old Jamal Abdul Jones.  As he is abused by priests and an orphanage, Jamal begins abusing other children and is thrown out of the orphanage.  Jamal then finds himself in a tough world of handling his own desires and dealing with consequences.

Some Sing, Some Cry, by Ntozake Shange. A fictitious story that follows an emancipated female slave through the life obstacles.  The story follows key moments in American history.

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeir.  A novel about life, death, and an area inbetween.  In this story the population of a city starts to evaporate due to the people existing only because they are
remembered by the living.

Name: Bill P.

Christine

October 26, 2011

Author: Stephen King

Title: Christine

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1983

Number of Pages: 503

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period: 1978

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  The year is 1978 and the pimply high school
senior Arnold Cunningham falls in love with “Christine,” a wrecked 1958
Plymouth Fury that he purchases for $250 from an old man who happened to be
wearing a back brace.  Arnie starts to
change after he takes possession of Christine.
The inward character starts standing up to his parents, his acne clears,
and he starts dating the new high school beauty Leigh.  Arnie is not the only one who’s appearance
begins to change.  Christine is restored
back to her 1958 condition extremely quickly by Arnie.  Accept no one actually sees Arnie working on
the car.   Arnie’s friend Dennis who
narrates the story starts to grow concerned after the cars previous owner dies
it is discovers the owner’s wife and daughter both died in the car.  While on a date with Leigh, Christine’s doors
lock Arnie out while Leigh starts choking to death.  Although Arnie is never seen at the scene of
the crime mysteriously all of his high school enemies are murdered while
Christine is present.  Arnie’s friend
Dennis who is convinced Arnie is being possessed devises a final showdown with
Christine.

Subject Headings: Automobiles, Spirit Possession, Supernatural, the Seventies (20th
century), High school seniors, Misfits(persons), Death.

Appeal: Character-driven, Flawed, Strong Secondary Characters,
Fast-paced, Easy, Small Town, Suspenseful, Uneasy, Dangerous, Haunting, Chilling,
Creepy, Bleak, Compelling, Edgy,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-driven,
Fast-paced, Haunting.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Hidden Files: Law
Enforcements True Case Stories of the Unexplained and Paranormal,
by Sue Kovach.  A
look at documented unexplained phenomena from the perspective of on duty law
officers.

 Unseen World: The Science,
Theories, and Phenomena Behind Events Paranormal,
by Ruppert Matthews.
A scientific look into spiritual mediums and reincarnation.

 Chrysler Muscle Cars, by Mike Mueller.
References pictures of Chrysler cars for the auto enthusiast or readers
curious to see what Christine looked like including engine, body, and interior
shots.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. This is the story of a metal band
musician who buys a ghost over the internet.
The ghost turns out to be the spirit of his dead girlfriend’s stepfather.  Similar to Christine the storyline is
character-driven with a fast pace.

Turn of the Screw, by Henry James.
This character driven horror story revolves around a governess of a
country estate who is haunted by ghosts of servants who once served the estate.

The Black Stone Chronicles,
by John Saul.  This fast paced horror story deals with the
destruction of an asylum to make way for a shopping complex.  Similar to Christine the book deals with past horrors effecting people during
the current time period of the story.

Name: Bill P.

The Damnation Game

October 26, 2011

Author: Clive Barker

Title:  The Damnation Game

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 448

Geographical Setting: Britain

Time Period: Early 1980’s

Plot Summary:  Marty Strauss, a gambling addict recently released from prison, is hired to be the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the wealthiest men in the world.  The job proves more complicated and dangerous than he thought, however, as Marty soon gets caught up in a series of supernatural events.  It all starts when a mysterious man named Mamoulian shows up on Whitehead’s property.  It turns out during World War II Whitehead mad a deal with Mamoulian in order to one day be ritch and powerful.   As time passes, Mamoulian haunts Whitehead using his supernatural powers, urging him to complete his pact with him.  Eventually Whitehead relents and chooses to meet with Mamoulian as Marty races to prevent Whitehead’s daughter from becoming entangled as Whitehead seeks to escape his fate.

Subject Headings: Zombies, Good and evil, Former convicts, Rich men, Supernatural, Violence, Selfishness in men

Appeal: Plot-driven, Bleak, Gruesome, Menacing, Violent, Compelling, atmospheric, uneasy, dark, imaginative, descriptive, explicit, horrifying

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Gruesome, compelling, atmospheric

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart by Noel Carroll

A serious look at the aesthetics of horror. In this book he discusses the nature and narrative structures of the genre, dealing with horror as a “transmedia” phenomenon. A fan and serious student of the horror genre, Carroll brings to bear his comprehensive knowledge of obscure and forgotten  works, as well as of the horror masterpieces. Working from a philosophical perspective, he tries to account for how people can find pleasure in having their wits scared out of them.  A nice read for anyone wanting to know more about the horror genre.

Dancing with the Dark: True Encounters with the Paranormal by Masters of the Macabre by Stephen
Jones

Fact is definitely scarier than fiction, especially when true stories of encounters with the unknown are retold by the horror masters who experienced them.  This is a good book for any fan of horror.

The Encyclopedia of Hell by Miriam Van Scott

The Encyclopedia of Hell is a comprehensive survey of the underworld, drawing information from cultures around the globe and eras throughout history. Organized in a simple-to-use alphabetic format, entries cover representations of the dark realm of the dead in mythology, religion, works of art, opera, literature, theater, music, film, and television. Sources include African legends, Native American stories, Asian folktales, and other more obscure references, in addition to familiar infernal chronicles from Western lore.  Whitehead makes a deal with the devil in The Damnation Game; this is the perfect book to find out which devil he dealt with.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Good House by Tananarive Due

The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House.  But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors, and the Toussaint’s family history and future is dramatically transformed.  A gruesome horror story filled with supernatural elements and dealings with the devil should appeal to fans of The Damnation Game.

A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene

Brinkley Springs is a quiet little town. Some say the town is dying. They don’t know how right they are. Five mysterious figures are about to pay a visit to Brinkley Springs. They have existed for centuries, emerging from the shadows only to destroy. To kill. To feed. They bring terror and carnage, and leave blood and death in their wake.   A terrifying story that should appeal to horror readers who like more carnage mixed in with their horror.  Just like The Damnation Game it is not for the faint of heart.

The Mailman by Bentley Little

It’s the first day of summer in a small American town. We meet a school teacher, his wife, and their young son, Billy. One thing, one seemingly minor thing, goes wrong. And all that was safe and ordinary slowly unravels into nightmare.  There’s a new mail carrier in town, one who’s delivering lethal letters stuffed with icy fear. Now nothing, not even the most outstanding citizens or the most secret weaknesses, is safe from the sinister power of this malicious mailman.  Featuring a strong main bad guy this should appeal to any reader who likes the menacing tone of The Damnation Game.

Name: Jason Rock

A Choir of Ill Children

October 24, 2011

Author: Tom Piccirilli

Title: A Choir of Ill Children

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 238

Geographical Setting: Fictional Southern town of Kingdom Come

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: In the backwater Southern swamp town of Kingdom Come, Thomas lives in a run-down mansion with his three brothers — conjoined triplets joined at the forehead who share a single brain, feared as freaks by the rest of the town. Thomas cares for the triplets and runs his family’s mill; his father and grandfather were the town bigwigs, but the town is now so desolate that the family’s standing means little. Kingdom Come is populated by a bizarre cast of characters including “granny witches” who live by the swamp and ward against evil spirits, a preacher prone to speaking in tongues and sudden public nudity, a religious cult, and various other creeps and lowlifes; as the story opens, Thomas is also hosting two documentary filmmakers trying to make a movie about the freakish triplets. As a young girl mysteriously appears in the swamp, the town is besieged by storms, an unknown person begins abusing all the town’s dogs, and the preacher warns that “the carnival is coming,” Thomas must lead his people against the dark forces that seem to be attacking the town.

Subject Headings: Southern Gothic fiction; Horror fiction; Conjoined twins; Small towns; Superstition; Swamps

Appeal: atmospheric, bizarre, character centered, dark, disturbing, edgy, episodic, grotesque, lyrical, moody, mysterious, relaxed pace, sexually explicit, surreal, uneasy, violent

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bizarre, disturbing, uneasyaQQ

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

• One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal by Alice Domurat Dreger [Examines case studies of conjoined twins; argues that they should not necessarily be separated, because their sense of identity is bound up in being conjoined; this is true of the conjoined twins in Piccirilli’s book]

• American Gothic Fiction: An Introduction by Allan Lloyd-Smith [Lit-crit text providing an introduction to the Gothic genre tradition that Piccirilli riffs on in Choir]

• Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture by Anthony Wilson [Overview of the importance of the swamp to Southern culture throughout history and in the present day; the swamp and its significance is a major component of Piccirilli’s novel]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

• Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor [Southern Gothic; dark tone, character-centered, bizarre, disturbing; O’Connor influenced Choir]

• Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque by Joyce Carol Oates [Literary horror; grotesque, atmospheric, dark]

• Softspoken by Lucius Shepard [Horror; contemporary take on Southern Gothic; bizarre family living in run-down mansion; dark, violent]

Name: Brian W.

Monster

August 17, 2011

 

Author:  Frank Peretti

Title:  Monster

Genre:  Christian fiction, Horror, Suspense

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  419

Geographical Setting:  Abney, Idaho and surrounding forested area

Time Period:  Present day (not explicit)

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Reed and Rebecca (“Beck”) Shelton head to Abney, Idaho to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.  However, plans for a peaceful escape into the wilderness soon become dashed as Reed and Beck discover that the forest contains much more than your typical wildlife.  As night falls, they begin to hear strange noises, and the sound of giant steps in the surrounding forest.  They quickly realize these creatures aren’t there to make friends, and flee into the surrounding darkness.  They’re not quick enough; Beck falls and is kidnapped by one of these hairy, hulking, smelly creatures and carried off into the night.  When Reed returns to the nearby town of Abney to get help, no one believes his story involving giant, ape-like, foul-smelling, hairy beasts with unbelievable speed and agility; they assume that they’re dealing with a bear attack.  However, evidence mounts up to the contrary, and soon others begin to realize that they may be dealing with a legendary beast: Bigfoot…or are they?  Are these beasts actually man-made, the result of altering chimpanzee DNA to create a super creature?  Suspense builds in this fast-paced tale of horror that is both action-oriented and issue-oriented, centering around the discussion of man’s involvement in DNA splicing and the concept of evolution.  A quick, exciting read, even fans that hold beliefs contrary to Peretti’s won’t be able to put down this cinematic tale.

Subject Headings:  Northwest, Pacific—Fiction, Wilderness areas—Fiction, Supernatural—Fiction, DNA research, Evolutionary beliefs, missing persons investigations, supernatural

Appeal:  fast-paced, menacing atmosphere, chilling tone, dangerous, didactic, foreboding, nightmare, scary, suspenseful, uneasy, familiar characters, action-oriented storyline, cinematic, investigative, issue-oriented, linear, detailed setting, details of Pacific Northwest forests, accessible

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul—Edward Humes (religion and evolution, novelistic approach, accessible style)

Bushwhack: A Serial Story of Off-Trail Hiking & Camping in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness—Gerald M. Chicalo (similar setting, also about a hiking trip gone awry, suspenseful elements)

Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America—Loren Coleman (supernatural element, investigative aspects, accessible style)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Prodigal Son—Dean R. Koontz (man messing with creation aspect, fast-paced, horror aspects)

Adam—Ted Dekker (fast-paced, Christian fiction/horror, suspenseful tone)

Double Helix—Sigmund Brouwer (DNA experimentation theme, Christian fiction, suspenseful tone, scary, issue-oriented)

–Jessica

Stitches: A Memoir

August 10, 2011

Title:  Stitches

Author: David Small

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: Detroit

Time Period: 1951-1990

Format:  Hardcover

Plot Summary:  This is a gripping memoir written by children’s illustrator David Small. It tells of his childhood in Detroit growing up in a dysfunctional house where member of his family had their own language for dealing with the uneasiness. There was coughing or slamming draws, hitting a punching bag, banging on drums and getting sick. At age eleven a growth is discovered in David’s neck. It takes three years before anything is done about it and what happens after will change David’s world forever. A memorable story that causes you to feel sad and perplexed at these uncaring parents while standing up and cheering for this young man’s fight to survive and thrive. David Small conveys the menacing atmosphere and the challenging youth he faced through his illustrations but the graphic format helps to make the difficult subject matter more readable.

Subject Headings:  Graphic Novel, Memoir, David Small, Children’s Illustrator

Appeal:  engrossing, chilling, dark, stark, uneasy, introspective, domestic, conversational, thoughtful, bittersweet, earnest, foreboding, unique

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: thoughtful, bittersweet and uneasy

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Voice: A Physician’s Personal Experience with Throat Cancer by Itzhak Brook MD – A personal story covers three years of the author’s life during which he faced throat cancer and the loss of his vocal chords.

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrator Talk to Children About Their Art by Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – For any reader of Stitches who would like to learn more about children’s book illustrators other that David Small.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics, Manga, Graphic Novels and Beyond by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden – If reading Stitches piqued your interest in how a graphic novel is made then this is the book for you.

3 Revelant Fiction Works and Authors:

  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – A story of a dysfunctional family that will appeal to readers of Stitches. Also it is a memoir. Bleak, uneasy and bittersweet

Once You Go Back by Douglas Martin – A story about a young man trying to find himself despite his dysfunctional family. Poignant, heartbreaking and thoughtful

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – This book would appeal to the reader who enjoyed Stitches due to its dark story and its teen male main character. It also appeals to the reader of a graphic novel due to the stories connection with the found photographs in the book.

Name:  Mary Othic