Posts Tagged ‘unusual’

Are You My Mother?

October 24, 2012

Cover of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Mostly Pennsylvania and Vermont

Time Period: Present day with flashbacks

Series: Follow-up to Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)

Plot Summary: Are You My Mother? is a densely-layered and thought-provoking exploration in graphic memoir form of author Bechdel’s complex, flawed relationship with her mother. Bechdel’s father, the subject of her earlier work, Fun Home, was a closeted bisexual who ultimately committed suicide, and her mother a frustrated poet and actress who sublimated her desires to those of her husband, submitting to the role of primary caregiver to their three children. Are You My Mother? depicts Bechdel, some five years after the publication of her critically-acclaimed book about her father, setting out to write a new book about her mother. Bechdel chronicles her process as an artist and writer, undergoing therapy and looking for analogies to her own life found in the works of favorite authors Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, as she attempts to shape a narrative that identifies the moments that wounded her mother and crippled the formation of a healthy mother-daughter bond. The artwork in Are You My Mother? is pen and brush with delicate grey and red washes, offering  a deceptively comic-strip-like simplicity that lightens the densely-written and sophisticated subject matter.

Subject Headings: Motherhood; Mothers and daughters; Teenage daughters—coming out; Parent and child; Suicide; Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941; Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971; Artists

Appeal: Detailed, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, introspective, well developed, character centered, complex, domestic, episodic, layered, literary references, sexually explicit, thought-provoking, contemporary, detailed setting, details of psychoanalytic theory, elaborate, metaphorical, sophisticated, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: introspective, layered, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling (2012) by Jared Gardner

Readers who admire the scope and depth of Bechdel’s graphic storytelling will find much to explore in Gardner’s recent lively, yet somewhat academic, tome. Gardner offers an interpretation of comics as an art form which encourages interactivity in deciphering its contents and a model for contemporary modes of communication. There are multiple passages on Bechdel’s work which contextualize her place in the comics field.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (2012) by Harvey Pekar

Bechdel works in the form known in graphic novel circles as autobiographical comics. Those who want to read more of this type of story may wish to acquaint themselves with Harvey Pekar, one of the seminal figures in this genre who helped define its contours. Where Are You My Mother? uses literary reference and psychoanalysis as a context for Bechdel’s self-exploration, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland in rich detail describes the deep impact that place and history have in shaping identity. Cartoonish but heavily-rendered pen and ink drawings highlight both the grit and charm of urban Cleveland.

Donald Winnicott Today (2012) edited by Jan Abram

The work and life of child psychoanalyst and theorist Winnicott are front and center in the narrative of Are You My Mother?  Bechdel comes to terms with life-long insecurities and decodes her troubled relationship with her mother, relying heavily on Winnicott’s models of mother-child dynamics. Readers who want to explore Winnicott’s work further will find this an accessible and thoughtfully assembled overview of his contributions to the field of Psychoanalysis.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

To the Lighthouse (1927; various editions) by Virginia Woolf

Bechdel’s work is heavily influenced by the English writer Virginia Woolf. Although many of her books are discussed in Are You My Mother?, Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse receives particular attention for its story of self-discovery and coming to terms with the past, which mirrors Bechdel’s emotional journey. Believed to be the most autobiographical of all Woolf’s psychological fiction, To the Lighthouse, with its lyrical style and reflective tone, will surely appeal to readers intrigued by the glimpses of the novel found in Are You My Mother?

Stuck Rubber Baby (New Edition; 2010) by Howard Cruse

Newcomers to comics featuring LGBT protagonists and themes who wish to explore further will find an incredibly rich and varied tradition awaiting them. One of the first widely critically-acclaimed graphic novels dealing with gay themes to receive national attention was Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, first published in 1995. Moving and reflective, and with a strong sense of place, the story follows the exploits of a young man named Toland Polk discovering his sexuality against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the South during the 1960s.

Wandering Son, Book 1 (2011) by Shimura Takako

Are You My Mother? explores the thematic territory of gender identity and coming of age as does the moving and character-driven manga Wandering Son.  Two fifth graders on the cusp of puberty share a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wishes he were a girl and Yoshino a girl who wishes she were a boy. Shimura’s spare and evocative art will likely appeal to fans of Bechdel’s stylized and emotionally expressive drawings.

Name: John Rimer


October 17, 2012

John Scalzi's RedshirtsAuthor: John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 317

Geographical Setting: Aboard the Universal Union starship Intrepid; Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: The distant future; 2010

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Redshirts builds an entire novel around the premise that on the television series Star Trek, the actors known as extras—usually wearing red shirts—who accompany the main cast members on away missions, invariably die a horrible death at the hands of whatever space monster is threatening the crew that episode. In a Star Trek-like universe aboard the starship Intrepid, Scalzi relates the exploits of red shirt-wearing junior officers determined to discover why their kind is being killed at such an alarming rate. Led by Ensign Andy Dahl, the redshirts follow the trail of a mysterious rogue officer, Lt. Jenkins, who lives a hermit-like existence in the bowels of the ship. Once cornered, the disheveled and wild-eyed Jenkins reveals the truth: that their reality is somehow being shaped by a poorly-written television program from Earth’s distant past. Although incredulous at first, Dahl and his fellow redshirts steal a shuttle craft and time travel to Hollywood in the year 2010 to confront the creators of the basic cable science fiction show, Chronicles of the Intrepid. With an irreverent, witty tone, and filled with eccentric characters, Redshirts satirizes familiar science fiction tropes in a fast paced story filled with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing through the action-packed mayhem that ensues.

Subject Headings: Space warfare, Aliens (Humanoid), Interplanetary relations, Betrayal, Interstellar relations, Futurism, Human-alien encounters

Appeal: fast paced, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, action oriented, television references, plot twists, strong language, humorous, philosophical, suspenseful, colorful, conversational, jargon, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: quirky, plot twists, humorous

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet (2012) by Dimitar D. Sasselov

Redshirts protagonist Andy Dahl is a xenobiologist aboard the starship Intrepid, an expert in alien biology. For those readers who want to know more about the very real field of xenobiology, Sasselov’s work is a fast paced and thought provoking exploration of the blending of synthetic biology and extra-planetary astronomy that seeks to expand our knowledge of life in the universe.

The Physics of Star Trek (2007) by Lawrence Krauss

Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss has made his reputation as a popular author translating the frontiers of scientific thought for a mass audience. In this work Krauss discusses many of the dramatic devices of the classic television series Star Trek, such as warp speed and time travel, and demonstrates their connection with the very real ideas of scientists like Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Readers who enjoy the discussions of the plausibility of the science of Star Trek in Redshirts will appreciate Krauss’s unique brand of scholarly but accessible science writing.

So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel (2012) by Phil Hornshaw

Hornshaw’s humorous, offbeat study of the theory of time travel will appeal to readers of Redshirts who were taken with Scalzi’s descriptions of black holes, alternate timelines, and time paradoxes. Descriptive and engaging, this book uses real science as the basis for a handy guide for would-be time travelers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Lost and Found (2004) by Alan Dean Foster

In this first volume of the Taken trilogy, Foster tells an atmospheric tale of Marc Walker, who while camping is abducted by seven foot-tall aliens known as the Vilenjji. From his cage aboard an interstellar slave ship, he learns from a fellow abductee, a talking dog named George, that they are to be auctioned off to collectors of interstellar life forms. Readers who responded to Scalzi’s blend of humor and suspense will appreciate a similar tone found here in Dean’s writing.

Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson

Fans of Star Trek who delighted in seeing that show parodied in Redshirts—if they are willing to swap science fiction for horror with a humorous tone—will be amused by this book. Richly detailed in the lore of all things Trek, Anderson’s novel follows the exploits of Jim Pike, who is forced to lead a small band of survivors when a strange virus transforms most of the attendees at a Star Trek convention into flesh-eating zombies.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010) by Charles Yu

Time travel was central to the storyline of Redshirts, as it is in this novel, which depicts a future where time travel is commonplace, and about a young man’s quest through time to find his missing father—the very first time traveler. Both Redshirts and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe share a tongue-in-cheek meta-perspective about the genre of science fiction, are witty in tone and similarly filled with eccentric and interesting characters.

Name: John Rimer

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

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

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

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

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

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

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

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

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

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

Name: Ally C.


April 11, 2012

Author – Jackie Kay

Title- Trumpet

Genre –GLBTQ, Literary Fiction

Publication Date – 1998

Number of Pages – 288

Geographical Setting – London & Scotland

Time Period – 1960s – 1990s

Series – N/A

Plot Summary – Trumpet is the haunting and beautiful story of Joss Moody.  Moody, based on real life Billy Tipton, is a famous African American jazz trumpeter who was born female, but identifies as male.  She lives her entire life masquerading as a male, revealing the secret only to her wife, Millie.  The story begins after Moody’s death, when her ‘real’ identity has been discovered through an autopsy.

Touching on themes of identity, love, secrecy and racism, this novel is a captivating and emotional read.  Told from multiple perspectives, readers are given insight into the minds of Millie, Coleman (Moody’s son), the coroner, a journalist attempting to write a tell-all biography on Moody’s life, and many otherss.

Subject Headings – Family Secrets; Identity (Psychology); Jazz; Male Impersonators; Racism; Scotland; Transsexuals; Trumpet Players; Grief

Appeal – Lyrical, Haunting, Thought-Provoking, Poetic, Shocking, Romantic, Intimate, Engaging, Unusual, Multiple Points of View, Quirky, Entertaining

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe the Book – Thought-Provoking, Unusual, Haunting

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works –

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (Various Authors): This work is a compilation of essays written by transsexuals focusing on their individual quests to find their true selves. Readers who were interested in the transsexual aspect of Trumpet will likely enjoy these first person accounts.

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (by Diane Wood Middlebrook): This book is the biography of Billy Tipton, the transsexual trumpet player who Jackie Kay based Trumpet on.  Trumpet is a fictionalized account of Billy Tipton’s story.  Readers who wish for the factual version of Trumpet will certaily enjoy this biography.

The History of Jazz (by Ted Gioia): This book is a comprehensive history of jazz.  Touching on the origins of jazz, the various styles, the places where the genre evolved, and commentary on the style itself, this work will interest readers who enjoyed the musical aspect of Trumpet.

3 Relevant Fiction Works –

Stone Butch Blues (by Leslie Feinberg) – This novel tells the story of Jess, a woman who lives her life as a man. Throughout the novel she is undergoing a transsexual operation, in secret, as well as searching for a community of her own. Readers who wish for a different book about a woman living her life as a man would likely enjoy this read.

Floating (by Nicole Williams-Bailey) – This book is about a young woman coming to terms with her identity.  As the daughter of a white socialite and a black alcoholic, she is continuously rejected by both the white and black communities. This book would appeal to readers who were interested in the struggles found in Trumpet regarding interracial relations.

The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (by Louise Erdrich)- This is a lyrical and haunting novel about a dying priest who is asked to prove the sainthood of a woman, while guarding a secret about his identity in the process. This will appeal to readers who enjoyed how Trumpet was written from multiple perspectives, and also for those who liked reading about someone protecting a secret regarding their identity.

Open by Jenny Block

March 28, 2012

Author: Jenny Block

Title: Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage

Genre: Popular Nonfiction

Publication Date: June 2009

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: The south

Time Period: Present

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Open is a provocative memoir exploring the writer’s experience being in an open marriage. Jenny Block leads readers through her first experiences constructing and deconstructing gender and sexuality to her gradual realization that she was miserable in a monogamous marriage. The book offers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s experience in an open marriage and how she believes monogamy is ultimately the exception and not the rule to human happiness.

Subject Headings: Family and Relationships, Communication in marriage, Marriage, Men/Women Relationships, Open Marriage

Appeal: streamlined plot, engaging, provocative, character driven, deliberate, easy, introspective, contemporary, political, conversational, direct, thoughtful, meticulous, persuasive, unusual, argumentative

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: thoughtful, conversational, provocative

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Why Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Minds and Hearts of People in Two Relationships, by Mira Kirshenbaum.

Block has an affair with another woman which serves as a catalyst to opening up her marriage. Kirshenbaum’s book explores why people have affairs and how they can reconcile what they did with what they want for their lives and relationships.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

People who enjoy Block’s honest, conversational exploration of what marriage is might also enjoy Committed.  Gilbert is a divorcee who is basically forced to marry her boyfriend in order to keep him from being deported. She interviews people from a number of different cultures about marriage in order to come to a place where she can enter marriage again.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino.

Block has to learn as she goes when it comes to creating an open marriage. For readers who are personally interested in the idea or simply want to read more accounts of how open relationships can thrive, Taormino’s book is a guide to open relationships and descriptions of different open relationships from interviewees.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Say When, by Elizabeth Berg

Beyond a small afterword by Chris, many readers may wonder about a husband’s perspective when his wife has an affair. Berg’s novel follows a husband whose wife has shocked him by having an affair and asking for a divorce. The novel keeps a light tone while it explores what it means to try and rebuild a marriage after an affair.

Journey to a Woman, by Ann Bannon

A bisexual woman realizes she made the wrong choice marrying her husband and sets out to reunite with the woman who stole her heart years ago. The book is bittersweet and quick-paced, keeping a realistic tone despite being an older entry into the pulp fiction genre.

Between Lovers, by Eric Jerome Dickey

This witty, character-driven novel explores the consequences of a woman requesting an open relationship with her ex-male lover and current girlfriend. The novel explores an open relationship in an honest way as the characters try to make sense of what they are doing.

When the Elephants Dance

August 17, 2011


Title:  When the Elephants Dance

Author: Tess Uriza Holthe

Genre: Multicultural, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Philippines

Time Period: 1941-1945

Format:  Hardcover

Plot Summary:  Tess Uriza Holthe has written a family story like no other. She tells the tale of the Karangalan family in the Philippines during World War II. The Japanese are rounding up and interrogating people and waging a fierce battle against the Americans. In order to survive, this family along with their friends and neighbors crowd together in a cellar and tell spellbinding tales based on Filipino myth and legend. These magical passages of Filipino culture absolutely transport the reader to a place and time far away but only for a short period of time until you are forced back into the fear and unknowing that this family faces every day. Within this book is a wonderful mix of history, humor and magical conversation that will have you wanting more as it comes to a close.

Subject Headings:  History, Fiction, Philippines, Japanese occupation, Folklore, War

Appeal:  engrossing, dramatic, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, magical, eccentric, detailed, inspiring, vivid, cinematic, character-centered, historical details, detailed setting, conversational, metaphorical, unusual, poetic

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: metaphorical, dramatic and heartwarming

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Captured: The Japanese Internment of American Civilianns in the Philippines, 1941-1945 by Frances B Cogan-For any reader of When the Elephants Dance who is interested in the history behind the story.

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides- This gripping tale will illuminate the struggle with Japan in the Philippines during WWII. This nonfiction book that reads like fiction will have readers captivated by this personal story of struggle.

Philippine Folk Tales by Mabel Cook Cole-This collection of traditional folk tales will interest readers of When the Elephants Dance who want to delve into the background of some of the tales they read about in Holthe’s novel.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Camera Soldiers: The Philippine Odyssey by James Russell Stephens-The fictional story of a team of soldier whose job it is to take photographs to document the war. It is set in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II.  It would appeal to readers of When the Elephants Dance who are looking for a story from the other side’s point of view.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat-A harrowing story that includes political violence and the supernatural. The ideas of tradition, suffering and the history of a people will resonate with readers of When the Elephants Dance.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz-A fantastical story with a conversational narrative that is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The story tells the tale of a family from the Dominican Republic and their life during and after the time of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Name:  Mary Othic

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

August 8, 2011

Author:  Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Title:  Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

Publication Date:2006

Pages:  331

Genre:  Non-fiction

Geographical Setting:  Pakistan

Time Period:  1993-2003

Subject Headings:  Greg Mortenson, Pakistan, K2, Korphe Pakistan, Pakistan Schools, Muslims Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia Institute

Appeal: steady, contemplative, moving, detailed, lifelike, complex, layered, flashbacks, political, informal, unusual, character-centered, (meandering)

Plot Summary: Professional mountain climber Greg Mortenson, tackles Pakistan’s K2 mountain in an effort to bury his deceased sister’s necklace.  Failure to do so takes him on a journey to a remote Pakistani village, where he discovers exceptionally poor conditions and lack of education for the children.   This  experience launches his lifetime commitment to building schools in various remote villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, making unusual friendships and enemies along the way.

Three terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, political, unusual, (meandering)

Similar authors and fiction works:

Murder on Everest by Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins

Murder mystery about the death of a multi-millionaire’s son as he attempts to climb Mt. Everest.  fast-paced, details of mountain climbing, dangerous

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

A memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Graphic Novel.  builds in intensity, dangerous, family-centered

Christy by Catherine Marshall

A young woman moves away from her life of privilege in order to teach the children of an impoverished community in the Smoky Mountains. detailed setting, character-centered, disturbing

Similar authors and non-fiction works:

Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz

This book is a coming of age memoir written by Ali Eteraz, who was born in Pakistan and raised in the United States by the age of 10.  He struggles with his religious upbringing versus western way of life.  introspective, informative, authentic

Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell

Esme Raji Codell is a first year teacher working in an inner city school.  This is a diary account of the obstacles she faces including non-supportive administrators, abusive parents and angry students.  candid, authentic, humorous

K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts

Harrowing true stories about six expeditions attempting to climb the second highest mountain in the world. dramatic, compelling, informative

Name:  Debbie

Black Hole by Charles Burns

April 13, 2011

Author: Burns, Charles

Title: Black Hole

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 368 Pages.

Geographical Setting: Seattle, Washington

Time Period: 1970s

Series: Collection of separately issued comic books

Plot Summary: High school students in Seattle in the 1970s have normal lives, except for the “bug.” This sexually transmitted disease begins to spread among many of the teens, resulting in disfiguring mutations appearing on the affected teens’ bodies. Though not all are visible, the infected teens that begin to show mutations they cannot cover up are treated as outcasts and resort to living in the wilderness and depending on each other for survival. Unfortunately for them, the recluses begin to disappear, and the teens’ concern for their acceptance by society turns into the necessity to survive.

The frightening black-on-white drawings of the graphics further emphasize the foreboding tone of the book, and aid the fast-paced plot.

Subject Headings: Teenagers — Sexuality; Hallucinations and illusions; Sexually transmitted diseases; Homeless teenagers; Disfigured teenagers; Alienation (Social psychology); Sick persons;
Misfits (Persons); Plague; Dreams; Mutants; Mutation (Biology); The Seventies (20th century).

Appeal: Engrossing, fast-paced, evocative, introspective, multiple points of view, vivid, flashbacks, issue-oriented, layered, plot twists, racy, sexually explicit, strong language, thought-provoking, tragic, stark, bleak, dramatic, intimate, uneasy, earthy, unusual.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, haunting, chilling.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese: Introspective, multiple points of view, character-centered; an examination of identity, race, and social acceptance.

Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World: Urban, evocative, raunchy; an interconnected story of eight teens and their sexual actions.

Dash Shaw’s BodyWorld: Dystopic, comedic, emotional; a small-town group of teenagers discover a mysterious plant with telepathic results.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

David Small’s Stitches: Introspective, haunting, intimate; Small’s memoir of growing up, a story of true self-discovery.

David B.’s Epileptic: Introspective, hallucinatory, shady; a memoir of B.’s youth, focusing on his epileptic brother and the family relationships.

Art Spiegelman’s Maus: Haunting, layered, bleak; a personal look into the horrors of the Holocaust and its effects.

Annotation by Carlen

Gideon’s Sword by Preston & Child

April 13, 2011

Author: Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln

Title: Gideon’s Sword

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Discs: 9 CDs, 10 Hours.

Geographical Setting: United States and various European countries

Time Period: 1980s to Present

Series: Gideon Crew, Book 1

Plot Summary: Gideon Crew, computer technology genius and all-around thief, spends his entire development undertaking the challenge of vindicating his deceased father from the shame of a crime he did not commit. Having succeeded eventually, after many years of study with the sole purpose of acquitting his father, Gideon looks forward to a normal life at long last. Unfortunately for him, a man named Manuel Garza literally steals him away and introduces him to someone who can pay him $100,000 to perform one task. The problem, as with many undercover activities, is that obstacles immediately jump in Gideon’s path, launching the listener into a fast-paced race against the clock, to prevent the shift of power among world nations.

The reader, Broadway actor and television star John Glover, highlights the sense of urgency in the book. His even-toned voice often leaves the listener hanging on by a thread, and in constant suspense.

Subject Headings: Children of murder victims, Fiction; Revenge, Fiction; Suspense fiction; Secrets; Murder witnesses; Fathers – death; Wrongful death.

Appeal: Engrossing, engaging, intriguing, multiple points of view, well-drawn, action-oriented, character-centered, investigative, linear, details of computer science and physics, political, dangerous, smart, unusual, witty.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Plot-centered, vivid, contemporary.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Lee Child’s The Hard Way: Suspenseful, plot-centered, and fast-paced; a series read-a-like as well with a similar focus on revenge.

Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Fate: Suspenseful, plot-driven, and richly detailed; a legal thriller with government conspiracy.

Robin Cook’s Foreign Body: Suspenseful, plot-driven, and dramatic; a medical thriller dealing with unexplained deaths, also a series.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag: Intriguing, meticulously researched, and exhilarating; a biography of German WWII spy Eddie Chapman.

Alan S. Cowell’s The Terminal Spy: Investigative, mysterious, questioning; an investigation of the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

V. V. Schmidt’s The Physics of Superconductors: Meticulously researched, lecture, phenomenal; a lecture based text examining the nature of superconductors.

Annotation by Carlen

In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan

March 16, 2011

Find at Local Library

Author: Goonan, Kathleen Ann

Title: In War Times

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 348 p.

Geographical Setting: United States and various European countries

Time Period: 1941-1980

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Soldier Sam Dance, who enlists during WWII, receives mysterious plans from his professor one night. The captivating nature of her disappearance and the plans she provides result in Sam’s attempt to build her secret device, right under the nose of the military. The effects of this produce intriguing and surprising results in this alternate-reality novel. The plot-centered story creates a sophisticated, richly-detailed setting combined with both historical references and a healthy dose of physics.

Subject Headings: Science fiction; Alternative histories (Fiction); Time travel, Fiction; World War II; The Forties (20th century); Saxophonists; Time travel (Future); Technology; Jazz music; Jazz musicians; Soldiers; Brothers — death; Technology and civilization; Futurism; Women physicists; Men/women relations.

Appeal: Bleak, chilling, complex, contemplative, deliberate, densely written, detailed, detailed setting, elaborate, engaging, historic details, intriguing, investigative, issue-oriented, layered, measured, political, resolved ending, sophisticated, thought-provoking, unhurried, well-developed.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Plot-centered, complex, unusual.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

John Birmingham, After America, follows Iraq after an energy wave disrupts North America. Dystopian with military aspects as well, but more contemporary.

Dexter Palmer, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, provides a steampunk, alternate reality novel involving aircrafts and physics.

Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver, is set in the time of Isaac Newton and promises as much adventure as science and math.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon, provides a collection of tales revolving around the periodic table and scientific discoveries. The humorous tone of the book entices non-scientists as well.

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, follows the engrossing history of the HeLa gene, DNA that was stolen from her at death for the benefits of science.

Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten, examines the youth of Oliver Sacks and provides an unusual perspective of his “chemical” upbringing.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Carlen