Posts Tagged ‘unsettling’

The Casual Vacancy

December 5, 2012

casualvacancycoverAuthor: J.K. Rowling

Title: The Casual Vacancy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 512

Geographical Setting: English village of Pagford

Time period: Present day

Genre: Black humor; Satirical fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In the quiet village of Pagford, chaos ensues after the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother leaves a vacancy on the parish council. The local election that follows exposes secrets, causes intense battles between families and community members, and leads to unexpected revelations that may change their lives forever.

Subject Headings: City council members – Death – Fiction. Local elections – Fiction. Country life – England—Fiction. England – Fiction. Black humor (Literature).

Appeal: Character-centered, detailed setting, bleak, thought-provoking, engrossing, unsettling, strong language, humorous, multiple points of view, closely observed characters, political

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, bleak, thought-provoking

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Readers who are seeking another bleak read with self-absorbed characters might enjoy An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge. This darkly humorous book also takes place in an English village and involves a bickering town council. The book also centers on young actress Stella, who takes on the job of assistant stage manager at a reparatory theatre company in Liverpool and finds romance with the director of the show.

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

For another darkly humorous, satirical fiction tale that takes place in England, readers should check out Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis. This satire pokes fun at modern society and culture in this story of thug Lionel Asbo, who looks out for his nephew Desmond Pepperdine. While Desmond just seeks a quiet and simple life without any trouble, his uncle’s criminal lifestyle has always gotten in his way, but Desmond has no idea how much worse it will get once Lionel wins big in the lottery.

Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel

Like The Casual Vacancy, Every Day is Mother’s Day is a character-driven book with a darkly humorous tone. This book focuses on medium Evelyn Axon, her daughter, Muriel, and their social worker, Isabel Field, as they all confront their own problems and dark secrets.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

J.K. Rowling: A Biography by Sean Smith

Author J.K. Rowling made a huge name for herself with her legendary Harry Potter series, and had fans eagerly awaiting the release of The Casual Vacancy, her first book for adults. These fans might want to check out a biography about Rowling and learn more about the life of their beloved author. J.K. Rowling: A Biography is the full-length story of her life based on research, interviews, and evaluations of her novels by author Sean Smith. Readers will learn about Joanne Rowling before she became the best-selling author she is today, and the experiences that helped lead her to where she is now.

A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar

Readers who enjoyed the secrets and scandals exposed in fictional work The Casual Vacancy might enjoy reading about actual scandals and true stories of notorious rulers in history. Some of these include Catherine the Great, King George III, and Joanna the Mad.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson

In The Casual Vacancy, politics and social classes played a big role in the story. Readers might enjoy this book because it discusses English society during a period of time in 1911 and covers milestones such as the crowning a new king and paralyzing strikes in the British industry. Also, this book is told from many points of view, much like readers get several different character’s perspectives in The Casual Vacancy.

Name: Melissa Apple

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

October 31, 2012

Bedbugs CoverTitle: Bedbugs

Author: Winters, Ben H.

Publication Date: 2011

Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: Present Day

Genre: Horror Stories, Suspense Stories

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: When Alex, Susan, and little Emma Wendt move into a New York City brownstone boasting a prime location and an amazingly cheap rent, they happily embark on a new chapter of their lives.  Sure, the landlady may be slightly eccentric, and the previous tenants may have disappeared inexplicably, but these are small grievances compared to the perfection of the place.  Until the bedbugs show up, those notoriously hardy pests swarming ever-increasingly across the city.  When an exterminator finds no trace of the insects, Susan’s sanity shows signs of cracking.  Where are these bugs?  Why aren’t Alex and Emma being bitten, and what exactly is in the basement?  Winters’ story preys on our collective fear of creepy-crawlies delivering a good, old-fashioned horror story wrapped up in a modern-day package.  He draws inspiration from the best conventions of great horror classics: the hopeful beginning, the slightly off-kilter secondary characters, an ominous warning to stay out of the basement, the escalating psychological torture of a progressively unstable narrator, even a portentous portrait a la Dorian Gray.  This fast-paced novel will keep the pages turning until the chilling and twisted end; it will keep the lights on much longer than that.

Appeal Characteristics: creepy, menacing, fast-paced, foreboding, paranoid, plot-twist, details of New York City, dark, resolved-ending, off-kilter, manic, unsettling, compelling, plot-driven, suspenseful, movie-like

Subject Headings: New York City, Brooklyn, Bedbugs, Family, Haunted Houses, Secrets, Apartment houses, Paranoia

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Creepy, Unsettling, Fast-Paced

Similar Fiction: 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This horror classic shares many themes with Bedbugs chief of which is the unstable nature of the narrator’s mind.  Where Winters’ tale is completely resolved, Jackson’s leaves the reader with a little more ambiguity.  Read this as both source material and a genuinely scary story.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Another classic horror story this time featuring the psychological torture of a young woman by neighbors whose eccentricities begin taking on a malevolent tone after Rosemary becomes pregnant.  The similar frame—everyday life slowly replaced by darkness—and paranoid feeling of this novel should appeal to readers who enjoyed Bedbugs.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

For anyone who wants a terrifying read with plenty of turns and surprises set in the modern landscape, look no further.  The menacing bed bugs are replaced here with a menacing—and very real—ghost.  Similar to Winters, though, Hill adds layers of poignant everyday struggles that interweave with the overall fight against the supernatural.

Bonus Watch-alike: The Innkeepers written and directed by Ti West

During the last operating days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, Claire and Luke, the last remaining employees, are determined to expose the ghosts that haunt the one hundred year old building.  As the final night wears on, Claire’s psyche begins to unravel as the line between reality and imagination begin to blur.  A modern-day ghost story that feels like an homage to its predecessors, the movie finds plenty of common ground with Bedbugs.

Similar Non-fiction:

Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects by Amy Stewart

This natural history contains not just the story of the bed bug but all manner of creepy and devilish insects.  Stewart proves that bugs don’t have to be supernatural to be scary.

Death Sentence: The True Story of Velma Barfield’s Life, Crimes, and Punishment by Jerry Bledsoe

The horror story staple of sweet, grandmotherly, ladies hiding a menacing secret isn’t just fiction, as proved by this true crime.  An account of the life and murders of the only woman executed in the US between 1962 and 1998, this book will chill readers with accounts of Bledsoe’s crimes as much as it shows redemption by prison.

Songs from the Black Chair: A Memoir of Mental Interiors by Charles Barber

A closely detailed look at mental illness and the real tortures of the psyche from the mouths of the sufferers, this book is part memoir, part investigative science writing.  As a man himself living under the dark shadow of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Barber tells the stories of the insane with balance and respect.

Name: Jessica

The Postmistress

September 26, 2012

Author: Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Franklin, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod) and war-torn Europe

Time Period: Fall 1940 – Summer 1941

Plot Summary: Set in the early 1940s when World War II was raging in Europe, The Postmistress interweaves the stories of three women as their lives are touched by the war. Iris James, the single, 40-year-old postmistress in the coastal town of Franklin, Massachusetts, prides herself in delivering the mail (what she considers delivering secrets). That is, until one day when she reads a letter that she slips into her pocket, where it remains undelivered. Meanwhile, Iris quietly observes the town doctor’s new wife, Emma Trask, as she desperately waits for word from her new husband who ran off to London to offer his services to victims of the war. Both Iris and Emma tune into the radio to listen to American radio girl Frankie Bard as she reports from the London Blitz and other areas in Europe and shares her dramatic personal accounts of the terrors she witnesses. On the eve of America’s entrance into the war, the stories of Iris, Emma, and Frankie collide when Frankie returns to the Cape Cod town with a vow to deliver a secret letter…

Subject Headings: Postmasters – Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Massachusetts—Franklin—Fiction; World War, 1939-1945—Radio broadcasting and the war—Fiction; London (England)—History—Bombardment, 1940-1941—Fiction.

Appeal: Character-centered, historical details, unsettling, descriptive, small-town, detailed setting, lyrical, dramatic, engrossing, tragic, romantic, leisurely-paced, well-developed characters

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, historical details and setting, dramatic

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Another historical fiction novel set during the time period of World War II, Sarah’s Key will appeal to fans of The Postmistress because of its similar historical context, character-driven storyline, and lyrical style. In Sarah’s Key, a family history full of secrets is unraveled as American journalist Julia Jarmond investigates the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, and learns about the ordeal of a young girl named Sarah who was arrested with her family during this raid by the French police during the war.

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

The book 22 Britannia Road is another historical fiction read that takes place during World War II. Similar to The Postmistress, this book is character-centered, and tells the stories of different characters whose lives are connected in some way. It allows the readers to connect with these characters and understand the impact of the war on each of their lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A suggested readalike for Sarah Blake, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in London at the end of the Second World War, and focuses on writer Juliet Ashton as she seeks a subject for her next book. When she begins correspondence with a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a book club formed when Guernsey was under German occupation) Juliet is drawn into the world of the society’s members and ends up making connections that change her life forever. This is another title with a set of well-developed characters whose stories are told through a series of letters. Through the letters Juliet exchanges with the members, the reader learns details about each member and how the German occupation impacted their lives.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

World War II London Blitz Diary by Ruby Side Thompson

This diary is the personal account of Ruby Side Thompson’s experiences during the World War Two London Blitz. Ruby’s detailed entries chronicle her struggles to cope in a war-torn city where bombs were being dropped nightly while still having to deal with the issues of everyday life. This book offers readers a unique look at this horrific time in history through the eyes of someone who fought to survive through it.  I chose this title because it provides a non-fiction account of World War II, but has appeal for readers of The Postmistress because of its focus on a person and the connection of viewing the war from her point of view. I felt it would have a more lyrical style and be more enticing than just a dry, factual account of events.

Letters from the lost: a memoir of discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes

Author Helen Waldstein Wilkes’ parents were among the few Jews who were able to leave Europe in 1938. In this emotional memoir, Wilkes reveals the letters that were written between her parents and the family they had to leave behind. This book provides a compelling glimpse into this tragic time in history through the personal letters of those who witnessed the horrors firsthand, and I feel would be relevant to readers of The Postmistress for the connection to the characters (in this case actual people witnessing the war), and for the historical elements of World War II.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Erik Larson, the best-selling author of Devil in the White City, writes this compelling narrative about the city of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign. The story focuses on William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his daughter, Martha, who becomes mesmerized by the glamorous lifestyles of Berlin’s salon society.  This relates to The Postmistress with its subject of World War II, and the character-centered appeal. Also, because it is written by a best-selling author, this fact alone might intrigue readers who are interested in this time in history.

Room

April 18, 2012

Author: Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: September 2010

Number of Pages: 321

Geographical Setting: Presumably Canada

Time Period: Present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Five-year-old narrator Jack has spent his entire life in a garden shed turned prison with his Ma. His narrations reveal to the reader that his mother has been held captive by a sociopath known only as Old Nick by Jack. Additionally, Ma made the decision to spare Jack the heartbreak of truly understanding their situation by telling him the Room is essentially the universe and that everything he sees on their television is fiction. The haunting, disturbing novel is irresistible from the start, spurred along by the fast-pace of a child’s narration and the incredible sense of psychological suspense Donoghue creates. About half the book takes place in the Room, until Jack and Ma finally make a daring escape. Rather than ending the story there, Donoghue explores their painful and shocking reintroduction to the outside world. This character-centered novel explores the harrowing but ultimately hopeful experience of Jack and his mother.

Subject Headings: Antisocial personality disorders, Kidnapping, Boys, Mother and child, Women kidnap victims, Compulsive behavior in men

Appeal: fast-paced, suspenseful, engaging, harrowing, disturbing, unsettling, uncomfortable, character-centered, realistic, haunting, refreshing, resolved ending

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: disturbing, compelling, suspenseful

Secrets in the cellar, by John Glatt

Donoghue was inspired to write Room after learning the terrible story of a 73-year-old man found guilty of assaulting and imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, fathering several children with her over the period of time she was trapped in a secret bunker he designed. Harrowing and deeply disturbing, Glatt’s book is the true story of the Fritzl case.

A stolen life: a memoir, by Jaycee Dugard

Readers who are interested in true stories of kidnapping and captivity that also contain an ultimately hopeful tone might like Dugard’s disturbing memoir of being kidnapped at age 11. The gritty, candid story is about Dugard’s imprisonment by a sex offender and her eventually escape after being forced to give birth to two of his children.

Tears of rage: from grieving father to crusader for justice : the untold story of the Adam Walsh case, by John Walsh.

Readers may be interested in learning about the legal side of a tragic ordeal after reading the Room. Walsh’s painful account of the cold legal system that could have done more to save his son will resonate with readers.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald

Readers who are eager to learn how Jack continues to develop may enjoy Grunwald’s historical fiction about a man raised as a practice baby for home economics courses. Henry House feels betrayed by lies about his origins, yet remains emotionally stunted by his unusual upbringing. The book is compelling and thought-provoking.

Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock

Another disturbing tale of abuse and family drama, Flock’s book features an eight-year-old protagonist who details her family’s abuse at the hands of her alcoholic stepfather. More methodically paced, the book is more of a thriller with a startling, violent ending that might appeal to readers who enjoyed Room but felt the book glossed over gritty details of Jack’s captivity and subsequent adjustment to the outside world.

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens

Readers who are interested in learning more about Ma’s ordeal may enjoy Still Missing, a novel exploring the trauma experienced by a woman who is kidnapped and abused at the hands of a sociopathic captor. The book is more gritty and reflective then Room, but also examines the reintroduction of a kidnapping victim into society.

That Yellow Bastard (Sin City Vol. 4)

August 10, 2011

Author: Frank Miller
Title: That Yellow Bastard (Sin City volume 4)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Thriller

Publication Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 223 (primarily black and white images)

Geographical Setting: Basin City, a fictional urban city in the western United States

Time Period: Unspecified (contemporary)

Series: Sin City

Plot Summary: The fourth volume of the graphic novel series, Sin City, centers around Detective Hartigan as he struggles to instill a sense of justice in a society characterized by corruption, organized crime, despair. Hartigan, plagued by heart problems and getting old, is one day from retirement when he faces one last mission: to save an 11 year old girl before she falls victim to a murderous mad man. Always adhering to his strict sense of justice and morals, Hartigan proves determined to rescue the girl at any cost. He succeeds and severley injures the mad man, Junior. In the process, Junior shoots Hartigan; the detective slips into a coma. While unconscious, corrupt police  frame Hartigan for the rape of the girl he saved. The real culprit, Junior, is the son of a corrupt politician and cannot be exposed. Hartigan serves an eight year sentence, never forgetting Nancy, the girl he rescued.. Finally out of prison, Hartigan once again proves good as he attempts to protect Nancy from a mysterious yellow figure who bares a striking resemblance to Junior.
Frank Miller’s stark black and white artwork helps convey the bleak mood of this gritty graphic novel that resembles film noir. The images and content both appear violent and sexually explicit. The action-based plot unfolds at a breakneck pace that is sure to keep the pages turning. Although this novel is not for the faint of heart, it is likely to pique the interest of many readers demanding a quick, adrenaline-raising read.

Subject Headings: Organized Crime–Fiction, Police–Fiction, Corruption, Noir–Fiction, Kidnapping–Fiction, Murder–Fiction, Rape–Fiction, Political Conspiracy–Fiction

Appeal: Breakneck, Bleak, Compelling, Dangerous, Gritty, Series (characters), Intriguing, Action-oriented, Atmospheric, Cinematic, Explicitly Violent, Sexually Explicit, Strong Language, Stark, Urban, Unsettling

Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Gritty, Explicitly Violent, Action-Oriented

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Street Solider: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob by Edward MacKenzie (This memoir describes life in the rough neighborhoods of Boston. MacKenzie is involved in organized crime; the betrayal of his corrupt boss lands the author in prison. Eventually, MacKenzie proves good in a harsh environment. The book is gritty, urban, compelling, violent, and filled with action.)

Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun: A Personal History of Violence by Jamar Nicholas
(This graphic novel represents an adaptation of Geoffrey Canada’s description of a violent and dangerous Bronx neighborhood. Canada’s book describes political action that exacerbates crime and violence in the urban setting. The graphic adaptation relies on unsettling images sure to captivate the reader. The tone of the book is gritty; the mood is bleak and dangerous.)

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin
(This compelling book details the history of Los Angeles through the lens of two historical figures-a mob boss and the police chief continuously hunting for him. The author describes the role of Los Angeles in influencing the thoughts, actions, and lives of these two men. This gritty book is a page turner that relies on its dangerous urban setting to create an intriguing story.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Luna Park by Kevin Baker
(Baker’s graphic novel often resembles noir fiction. It relies on black and white images that frequently appear explicitly violent. The result is a fast paced, atmospheric, and gritty graphic novel, detailing organized crime and street life in a dangerous New York City setting.)

100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello
(This graphic novel-the first in a series-describes a violent setting consisting of gangbangers and mob bosses. It centers around a mysterious agent who offers ordinary citizens the chance to exact violent revenge upon those who have wronged them. The graphic novel ponders the theme of morality amid corruption and injustice. The graphic novel is bleak and violent in tone. It is also fast paced and gritty.)

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
(This novel revolves around a violent massacre and the decision of a bystander to profit from a stash of heroine and two million dollars found on the scene. The decision lands the protagonist in the midst of a dangerous environment characterized by drug lords, corrupt police, and violence. The novel is bleak and disturbing in tone. It also features a gritty writing style and atmospheric mood.)

Dan Thorson

World War Z by Max Brooks [Audiobook]

August 3, 2011

Title: World War Z

Author: Max Brooks

Genre: Horror (Audiobook)

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 342 (6 hours)

Geographical Setting: Worldwide

Time Period: Near future (After the war)

Plot Summary: World War Z is a pseudo-documentary that chronicles the tales of a broad cast of characters, from different countries and walks of life, all drawn together by the impending threat of annihilation from the walking dead. Section has an interview as the unnamed writer gets the story from the survivors regarding each “phase” of the zombie epidemic. Starting from the “patient zero” in China, to the spreading to South America and Africa, and hitting epidemic and panic levels in America and worldwide, the story weaves a chilling tale of the failure of the government and the people of the world to cope with a truly chilling pandemic. The story chronicles the multi-faceted problem of the zombie epidemic and how the world as a whole faces and eventually overcomes it. This is a story that is part horror, part war story and part social commentary and for anyone with a passing interest in the zombie mythos it is a must-read.

Subject Headings: Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies, Epidemics, Technological Meltdown, War, Documentary, Social Commentary

Appeal: character-driven, interview narrative, gritty, scary, unsettling, dark humor, political humor, atmospheric, satirical, dark

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book: gruesome, social commentary, compelling

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel Drezner (A more scholarly discussion of how various nations and governments might react in the face of a zombie epidemic.)

Zombies!: An Illustrated History of the Undead by Jovanka Vuckovic and George Romero (An in-depth overview of the cultural phenomenon of zombies in popular culture, from B-movies to Haiti.)

Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us by John Quiggin (This is an economic discussion how dead ideas (rather than the living dead) continue to plague the current worldwide market. It freely uses zombies as a metaphor to get its ideas and theory across.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith- (A classic tale with a tongue-in-cheek infusion of the living dead. Intellectual, zombie-related and darkly humorous)

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (A chilling social commentary and apocalyptic novel that outlines how society can collapse entirely in slow motion.)

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks (A prequel work to World War Z that outlines the survival techniques and methodology for surviving the same zombie epidemic that plagues these characters. This book is also briefly referenced in the narrative.)

Cell

August 3, 2011

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Horror; Audio Book

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 12.5 hours

Geographical Setting: post-Apocalyptic America (begins in Boston)

Time Period: sometime in the near, or hopefully not so near, future

Plot Summary: Have you ever been annoyed by someone talking too loud on their phone? Perhaps you were talking to a friend and all of a sudden they answer their phone, interrupting your conversation with them. Stephen King explores the possibility of a global pulse sent through cell phones that automatically turns all of the people using their cell phones into cannibalistic zombies. I think I’d rather just deal with the rude cell phone users, what about you? The story centers on a character named Clayton Riddel. He directly witnesses the moment the pulse turns normal people into violent psychopaths. A hero in his own right, he joins two others, who were not affected by the pulse, and travels to try and find his son. Is his son still alive or has he turned into one of the affected? What will happen during their journey there? The narrator of this particular audio book is Campbell Scott. Scott uses a disaffected voice that allows you to sink into the chilling violence and frightening content of the book. Cell is an horrifically great audio book, that you won’t want to stop listening to until the very end.

Subject Headings: Apocalypse Stories; Zombies; Technological Meltdown; Separated friends/relatives

Appeal: fast-paced, plot-driven, suspenseful, compelling, creepy, gritty, descriptive, scary, unsettling, strong language, atmospheric, intriguing characters

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book: unsettling, plot-driven, creepy

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Aftermath: Prepare for and Survive Apocalypse 2012 by Lawrence E. Joseph (those who enjoy apocalyptic fiction, often wonder about the real end of the world and what might happen. This book explores the apocalypse, perhaps in a way that is even more horrific than Stephen King, because the author tries to base it on fact.)

Field Guide to the Apocalypse: Movie Survival Skills for the End of the World by Meghann Marco (explores more unlikely apocalypse scenarios based on those in movies, and gives information on how to deal with them. Compelling tone, and more lighthearted if reader doesn’t want to explore more likely apocalypse scenarios)

Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age: An Insider’s Alarming Discoveries about Cancer and Genetic Damage by Dr. George Carlo & Dr. Martin Schram (explores realistic effects of cell phone usage, may interest Cell readers looking to further explore likely effects of cell phone usage)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The strain by Guillermo del Toro (compelling, gritty, detailed, creepy, fast-paced, similar storyline, outbreak of people turned killers)

Zombie apocalypse! by Stephen Jones (zombie-like evil people, fast-paced, creepy, horror story, set in well-known cities)

Dead Lines by Greg Bear (explores possible negative impacts of new technology, disturbing tone, fast-paced, compelling, and recommended as a readalike for Cell on Fiction_L)

Name: Tara Bauer

Paradise by Toni Morrison

April 20, 2011

Paradise by Toni MorrisonAuthor: Toni Morrison

Title: Paradise

Genre: Literary Fiction / Mystery / Bestseller (Oprah’s Book Club)

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 318

Geographical Setting: Mostly rural Oklahoma

Time Period: 1940s – 1970s, with flashbacks

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: The legacy of an all-black town and the interwoven histories of its founding families dance around each other, while also playing into the murderous rage directed at a nearby “Convent,” where four women with painful pasts have chosen to remain separated from the rest of society. Suspense, mystery and magical realism all play their parts.

Subject Headings: Rural America – Oklahoma, African Americans, Slavery, Civil Rights, History

Appeal: Deliberate, densely written, atmospheric, chilling, darker, dramatic, emotionally-charged, haunting, menacing atmosphere, uneasy, unsettling, detailed, well-developed, complex, flashbacks, layered, historical details, rural, literary

3 terms that best describe this book: haunting, complex, unsettling

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – Race relations in America and the African-American experience.

Becoming Faulkner: the Art and Life of William Faulkner by Philip Weinstein – the subject of Toni Morrison’s Master’s Thesis and an oft-cited influence on her writing style.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson – true stories of African-American migration told with compelling detail.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdich – rural Western U.S, somewhat fractured storytelling, interwoven stories with dark pasts, human relationships, detailed and unsettling.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende – magical realism, lyrical prose, detailed and well-developed.

Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates – a haunting and disturbing tale driven by psychological suspense and the darker side of human nature.

Name: Genevieve Grove

The Shining by Stephen King

April 13, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/photo.goodreads.com/books/1249804065l/11588.jpgAuthor: Stephen King

Title: The Shining

Genre: Horror, Gothic

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages/CDs: 447 pages / 14 CDs (16 hours – Read by Campbell Scott)

Geographical Setting: Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Time Period: Present-day 1970s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jack Torrence accepts a position as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel set high in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  Wendy and Danny, his wife and son accompany him on the months long job.  The family sees the opportunity to reconnect and rebuild their troubled past as a family, and Jack hopes to use the time to overcome his struggle with alcohol and anger and focus his energy on his play writing.  While Danny has premonitions that spending the long winter in this hotel is his worst nightmare, what he does not know is that his visions are only a small snippet of the true terrorizing force that has wreaked havoc at the hotel.  As they become ever more isolated by the harsh winter conditions, Jack’s mental condition deteriorates and he begins hallucinating.  Wendy and Danny become more and more scared and paranoid that nothing is what it seems at the hotel, and even Jack is no longer trustworthy.  In the last third of the book, the story unfolds quickly and leaves you on the edge of your seat.  Campbell Scott reads this books with an intensity that embodies the terror of the Overlook Hotel.

Subject Headings: boy psychics, alcoholics, caretakers, family relationships, haunted hotels, resorts, supernatural, telepathy, violence in men, winter, Colorado, Rocky Mountains, murder.

Appeal: character-driven, fast-paced, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, suspenseful, compelling, detailed, builds in intensity, ominous, claustrophobic, unsettling, well-drawn, flawed, violent, strong language, detailed setting, isolated, descriptive, scary.

3 Terms that best describe this book: menacing, isolated, descriptive

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Dark Sacrament:  True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely – haunted houses, true case stories of demon possession, exorcism, detailed historical analyses, good and evil, demons.

The ESP Enigma:  the Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena by Diane Hennacy Powell – science writing, attempts to scientifically explain psychic abilities, extrasensory perception, paranormal phenomena, psychic ability, psychokinesis, accessible.

Spook:  Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach – science writing, accessible, engaging, witty, funny, life after death, paranormal phenomena, soul, using science to understand the paranormal.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Passage by Justin Cronin – horror story, character-driven, suspenseful, menacing, bleak, compelling, good and evil, survival, violence.

The Ruins by Scott Smith – horror story, suspenseful, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, violent, compelling, isolation, brothers, survival.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – horror and gothic fiction, character-driven, atmospheric, creepy, moody, classic horror story, isolated location, supernatural, good and evil.

Name: Jeannine Kropski

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

March 30, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/cineclubecovilha.com/image/screen/Under-the-Banner-of-Heaven--By-Jon-Krakauer.jpgAuthor: Jon Krakauer

Title: Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith

Genre: Non-fiction; True Crime; Spirituality and Religion

Publication Date: July 2003

Number of Pages: 399

Geographical Setting: Utah, Canada, New York, Illinois

Time Period: 1980s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: The book begins with a true story of two brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who on July 24, 1984 murdered Brenda and Erica Lafferty, their sister-in-law and niece. Their reasoning was that God ordered them to do so.  Both men are now serving time in prison for the murders.  Neither of the brothers denies killing Brenda and Erica, but claim that they did not commit any crime.  When asked how both could be true, Ron Lafferty says, “I was doing God’s will, which is not a crime.”

Both brothers are affiliated with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), also known as Fundamentalist Mormonism.  Krakauer explores issues of polygamy and the strict guidelines surrounding the fundamentalist sect of Mormonism, and he discusses its negative connection to the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) or mainstream Mormons.  He also delves into the history and formation of modern-day Mormonism and its founder, Joseph Smith.  His compelling and engrossing book attempts to decipher extremist beliefs among FLDS members and its roots.

Subject Headings: true crime, spirituality and religion, child murder, Lafferty family, Mormon Church, Mormon fundamentalism, Murder, Murderers, Revelation (Mormon Church), Sects, 80s, 20th Century, Violence, Women murder victim, Joseph Smith

Appeal: disturbing, thought-provoking, compelling, engrossing, unsettling, investigative, historical details, tragic, well-developed, layered, accessible, informative, dark, enthralling

3 Terms that best describe this book: enthralling, disturbing, informative

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Joseph Smith:  Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman – Biography of Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon faith), history writing, Mormons, well researched, Mormon experience, 19th century American life, Bushman is a Mormon, but attempts to provide an evenhanded view.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop – Autobiography of a woman forced into plural marriage as a teenager, Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), struggles to survive outside the FLDS, escape, abusive relationship, spirituality and religion, family and relationships, true crime, polygamy, Utah.

Crazy for God: how I grew up as one of the elect, helped found the Religious Right, and lived to take all or almost all of it back by Frank Schaeffer – Autobiography, personal accounts of growing up and living within the religious right, Christian Evangelicals in America, Christian Fundamentalism, discusses family and relationships, spirituality and religion, candid storytelling, struggle with faith and beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Author

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Mormons, polygamy, Historical mystery, first person narrative, murder, Utah, present-day, fictional narrative of the real life “rebel” and nineteenth wife of Brigham Young.

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard – Mormons, family relationships, Utah, character-driven, compelling, moving, murder, forgiveness.

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall – Mormons, polygamy, Utah, male perspective, family, domestic fiction, middle-aged men, family secrets.

Name:  Jeannine Kropski