Posts Tagged ‘urban’

One Better by Rosalyn McMillan

November 27, 2012

Author: Rosalyn McMillan

Title: One Better

Genre: African American Literature, Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 360

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1990s

Plot Summary:  Having come from a life of abuse, drugs, prostitution, and poverty in Mississippi, the Witherspoon family and their friends have succeeded in creating thriving restaurant and development businesses in Michigan. The author eloquently tells the story of the lives of Spice, Sterling, Mink, Otis, Carmen Enriquez, and Golden Westbrook as they struggle with their successes and failures, addictions to drugs and alcohol, tragic accidents and death. Individuals interested in reading about the redevelopment of Detroit may really like this book. However, there is a lot of explicit sex and drug dealing, so it is not recommended for teenagers.

Subject Headings: Family, Detroit, MI, Illegal Drugs, African American Women, Restauranteurs, Domestic Fiction, Love Stories

Appeal terms:  measured pace, dramatic, episodic, realistic, detailed, melancholy, well-developed, explicit sex, family-centered, urban, literary, details of drug and alcohol addiction

Three appeal terms: family-centered, urban, details of drug and alcohol addiction

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston- This book is about the life and marriages of an African American Woman in the 1930s.

The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan- Terry McMillan is Rosalyn McMillan’s sister. Both authors write about the lives of African Americans. This book is about a woman, her marriage, and her family as she struggles with the idea of being a perfect wife and mother. Terry McMillan is best known for her books, Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker- This is the story of 20 years in a woman’s life as she experienced abuse and rape by her father and husband.

Non-Fiction:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- This is the autobiography of the poet, Maya Angelou. The book is about the painful stories that she experienced as a child.

Terry McMillan by Bruce Fish- This is the biography of Rosalyn McMillan’s sister. It tells the story of how she survived a violent childhood to become a bestselling author of books and the screenplays for the movies.

The Honeymoon’s Over: True Stories of Love, Marriage and Divorce edited by Andrea Chapin and Sally Wofford-Girand- This is a book of essays by female authors, including Terry McMillan, about love marriage and divorce.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Breakdown

October 17, 2012

Author:  Sara Paretsky

Title:  Breakdown

Genre:  Mystery

Publication Date:  2012

Number of Pages:  431

Geographical Setting:  Chicago, Illinois

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  The V.I. Warshawski Series (#16)

Plot Summary:  Chicago private detective V.I. Warshawski investigates the potential involvement of a group of preteen girls interested in the Supernatural in the grisly vampire-style murder of a local private detective.  Meanwhile, a polarizing cable TV news host ratchets up his attempts to smear a candidate for the U.S. Senate by digging up dirt on wealthy businessman Chaim Salanter, an elderly Jewish supporter of the candidate and the grandfather of one of the girls discovered at the scene of the murder.  Plotlines converge at breakneck speed when Salanter’s granddaughter is kidnapped.  With the girl’s life hanging in the balance, Warshawski races to determine how the original murder and Salanter’s well-kept secrets are related to the kidnapping, a vicious attack on an old friend, and the death of an orderly at a state mental facility.  As the plot twists and turns, it seems clear that someone is willing to go to great lengths to make sure events of the past stay buried. 

Subject Headings:  Warshawski, V.I. (Ficticious Character)—Fiction; Women Private Investigators—Illinois—Chicago—Fiction;  Murder—Investigation—Fiction; Rich People—Fiction; Political Campaigns—Fiction;  Chicago (Ill.)—Fiction

Appeal:  fast-paced, compelling, suspenseful, dangerous, dark, gritty, sarcastic, engaging, series characters, intricately plotted, multiple plotlines, plot twists, investigative, rich and famous, contemporary, urban, political, details of Chicago, candid, earthy, straight-forward

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe Book:  fast-paced, intricately plotted, suspenseful

Fiction Read-alikes:

A Trouble of Fools by Linda Barnes

Fans of Sara Paretsky’s tough, female private investigator V.I. Warshawski may also enjoy getting to know Carlotta Carlyle, the smart, hard-nosed female P.I. at the heart of Linda Barnes’ fast-paced mysteries, which are set against the gritty urban landscape of Boston. In this first title of the series, Carlotta’s investigation into the disappearance of a missing cab driver soon draws her into intrigue involving the IRA, a major drug ring, the FBI, and a member of the Mob.

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Readers who enjoyed following the nasty political campaign and related media tie-ins at the heart of Breakdown may also enjoy this suspenseful and intricately plotted mystery involving murder and sleazy politicians.  Plotlines converge as Detective Jake Brogan investigates a series of murders of young women in Boston, while disgraced reporter Jane Ryland covers a seemingly-unrelated sex scandal involving a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The Chicago Way by Michael T. Harvey

Readers of the V.I. Warshawski series who enjoy its gritty Chicago setting may also enjoy this first title in Harvey’s series about ex-Chicago cop and private detective, Michael Kelly.  At the request of his former partner, Kelly agrees to investigate a cold case involving a violent rape committed 8 years ago.  After his partner is found dead the next day, Kelly’s investigation soon points to the possibility that a serial killer/rapist is currently on the loose.  In this fast-paced mystery, the body count mounts as Kelly races to expose a cover-up related to the original crime.

Related Non-Fiction:

Politics on Demand: The Effects of 24-Hour News on American Politics by Alison Dagnes

A major plotline in Breakdown revolves around the efforts of a popular, politically polarizing host of a major cable TV news program to influence the outcome of a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  This book examines the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle perpetuated by cable news stations, and the resulting shift in coverage away from substantive treatment of political issues to opinion-based reporting.   Also discussed is the impact this type of coverage has had on Americans’ understanding of politics and government, changes in the ways in which news organizations use politicians, and vice versa.

The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944 by Herman Kruk

A significant plotline in Breakdown involves an investigation into a major character’s experience as a youth living in the Jewish Ghetto of Vilna, Lithuania during WWII.  This book is a translation of a diary kept by Herman Kruk, a Polish Jew who lived in the Vilna Ghetto, who ultimately perished in a labor camp in Estonia.  The diary provides a heartbreaking account of the conditions, violence, and cruelty that marked everyday life in the Ghetto.

Vampires, Zombies, and Shape-shifters (Secrets of the Supernatural)  by Rebecca Stefoff

Secret rituals surrounding membership in a book club for a (fictitious) popular series of books about vampires and shape-shifters inadvertently connects a group of preteen girls to a dangerous murder plot in Breakdown.  This book provides a review of the legend and folklore surrounding the enduring myth of vampires, zombies, and shape-shifters (e.g., werewolves).

Becky King

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

October 3, 2012

Author: Sidney Sheldon

Title: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Many international cities including Berlin, Paris, and mainly Manhattan

Time Period: Modern times; 2004?

Plot Summary: A series of suspicious murders wracks the scientific world. Four murders occur within hours of each other, and upon further investigation, it is found that all these murders are linked through the ultra-secret, super high powered think-tank Kingsley International Group. Two widows of the murdered scientists meet in Manhattan with the head of KIG to beg him for assistance in finding their husbands’ killer, and he promises he will. Yet the longer they stay in New York, the more terrifying their lives become as multiple murder attempts are made on both their lives. Scared for their lives and not knowing who to trust, the widows begin a death defying adventure to uncover the secrets of their husbands’ deaths, and who is behind KIG.

Subject Headings: Widows, Think Tanks, Environmental Disasters, Weather Control, Murder, Attempted Murder, Escapes, Conspiracies, International Intrigue, Spy Stories, Romantic Suspense, Suspense.

Appeal: Plot Driven, Suspenseful, Urban, Violent, Dangerous, Foreboding, Paranoid, Romantic, Murderous, Evil, Thrilling, Fast-paced

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Plot Driven, Suspenseful, Romantic

Similar fiction authors and works:

Brown, Dan. The Lost Symbol When symbologist Robert Langdon discovers his friend has been abducted, he is out to solve the mystery and bring her to safety. This story is full of intricate plot twists and conspiracies that keep the reader guessing. Readers who liked the pacing and the conspiracy aspects of AYAOTD will enjoy this read.

Brown, Sandra. Lethal Like Are You Afraid of the Dark?  Lethal centers around two widows who are previously unaware of their husbands’ involvements in shady dealings. It is also fast paced and intricately plotted, with many twists and shocking revelations to keep the reader begging to know what happens.

Clark, Mary Higgins. Before I Say Goodbye This story deals with a corrupt business venture, similar to the corruption in Are you Afraid of the Dark?  It is suspenseful and plot driven, and takes place in New York City. There are also romantic aspects of this novel, although not as heavily as in AYAOTD.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

King, David. Death in the city of light: the serial killer of occupied Paris Readers who enjoyed discovering who the killers were, and trying to work along with the plot twists, will enjoy this true crime. This would also be a good pick for readers who enjoyed the exotic locales as it is set in Paris.

Owen, David. The conundrum: how scientific innovation, increased efficiency, and good intentions can make our energy and climate problems worse Readers who enjoyed the aspects of environmental technology and climatology will enjoy this title.

Pooley, Eric. The climate war: true believers, power brokers, and the eleventh-hour fight to save the earth   Readers who enjoyed the big business and think tank aspects of this story as it relates to environmental well being, and the conspiracy theory aspects, might enjoy this title.

Welcome to Bordertown: New stories and poems of the Borderlands

September 26, 2012

Welcome to Bordertown: New stories and poems of the Borderlands

Edited by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner Introduction by Terri Windling

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 517

Geographical Setting: Multiple Locations, mostly in Bordertown, present day

Series: Bordertown

Plot Summary:  Bordertown, the town on the border between The Realm and our land where neither magic nor technology is reliable, has reappeared after a 13-year absence from the human world; although, the residence think it has only been 13 days.  New humans are pouring into Bordertown with new technology and ideas.  The authors in this anthology, much like the characters in the stories, are a mixture of old Bordertown writers and new, who grew up reading the books and jumped at the chance to contribute to a new volume for this beloved shared world.  Since this book is a compilation from several different authors, the engaging stories each have their own unique feel.  The stories and poems in this anthology touch on many subjects, including, but not limited to love, identity, music, and horror, and sometimes all in the same story.

Subject Headings: Borderlands; Imaginary place; Elves; Humans; Magic; Parallel universes; Supernatural; Runaways; City life, Family life, Friendship.

Appeal:  engrossing, deliberate, series characters, well-developed, character centered, gritty, contemporary, magical, eccentric, poetic, atmospheric, dark, world building, shared world.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: world building, character detailed, dark.

Three fiction read-alikes:

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy, strong sense of place, magic)

This series is about a professional wizard, Harry Dresden, who sets up shop in Chicago as a private eye.  The books in this series are a cross between hard-boiled detective and dark fantasy fiction with a strong sense of place.

Boondocks fantasy edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg

This anthology of urban fantasy contains a collection of 20 stories featuring a mix of characters from folklore and people you might meet on the street today.

The modern fae’s guide to surviving humanity edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, 2012;

This is a collection of short stories about fairies surviving in the modern world.  Stories range from humor to dark fantasy.

Three related non-fiction titles:

The Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye

This 2006 award-winning anthology contains six short stories, from blithe to sinister, involving Fair Folk and the humans who come into contact with them.

Fairy tales in Electri-City by Francesca Lia Block

A short book of poetry involving mythological beings and a girl looking for love in present-day Los Angeles.

Weird U.S. : the oddyssey continues : your travel guide to America’s local legends and best kept secrets by Mark Sceurman, Mark Moran, Matt Lake.

Part of a series of travel books discussing the weirder parts of the U.S. tourists try to avoid and thrill seekers search for.

Name: Shira

Night Work

August 13, 2012

Author: Laurie R King

Title: Night Work

Genre: Mystery, GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 416

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, CA

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable): Kate Martinelli

Plot Summary: 

Kate and her partner Al get called in to two similar murder scenes, for men who appear to have nothing in common except a history of hurting women.  It comes to light that there is a group of female vigilantes in town, exacting their own form of justice, and the suspect list begins to hit close to home for Kate.   Interwoven with spirituality, feminist politics, and personal relationships this is a smart and fast-paced mystery.

Subject Headings:

Lesbian detectives; Man-hating; Martinelli, Kate; Policewomen; Revenge; Serial murderers; Vigilantes; Violence against women; Women detectives

Appeal:

Compelling; Character-driven; fast-paced; dramatic; Builds in intensity; impassioned; issue oriented storyline; investigative; resolved ending; urban; strong secondary characters; well-drawn characters

3 terms that best describe this book:

fast-paced; character-driven; impassioned

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gay Religion by Scott Thumma

This book presents the spiritual lives of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  It may appeal to those who were interested in the religious discussions in Night Work.

Children of Kali: through India in Search of Bandits, the Thug Cult, and the British Raj by Kevin Rushby

This book provides an insight into the history of a religious cult that worships the goddess Kali.  This goddess was referenced throughout Night Work and some readers may be interested in learning more about her.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

This work is the story of families living and struggling in modern-day India.  Readers who were interested in Pramilla’s case in Night Work may like this look into India.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

A female heart surgeon is being terrorized by a killer using the same MO as her rapist.  The detective on the case is Jane Rizzoli, the sole female homicide detective.  This work features strong female characters, like those in Night Work, and is investigating crimes against women.

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Detective Carol Jordan is investigating a string of murders, that involves sexually torturing male victims, and due to a lack of suspects profiler Tony Hill is brought in on the case.  A gritty and disturbing mystery, this book may appeal to those who liked the fast-paced and suspenseful story in Night Work.

Deaths of Jocasta by J.M. Redmann

The second book in the Micky Knight Mystery Series has Micky investigating a dead body that turns up at an event she is running the security for.  In the course of the investigation more dead bodies turn up and the suspect is a former love interest.  A character driven mystery this may appeal to those who liked the GLBTQ aspect of Night Work as well as the cases connection with the main detective’s personal life.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

Let the Church Say Amen

August 13, 2012

Author: ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Title: Let the Church Say Amen

Genre: African American Fiction, Christian Fiction

Publication Date: July, 2004

Number of Pages: 289

Geographical Setting: Houston, Texas

Time Period: Modern Day

Series: Book 1 of the Amen series

Plot Summary: In book 1 of Billingsley’s Amen series, we are introduced to Reverend Simon Jackson, dedicated pastor who puts his church first  and in working hard to build it up from nothing, ends up neglecting his wife and three children.  Although he runs a tight, successful ship in his congregation, his children are another story. One son is having problems with drugs, one son is confused about his identity and his daughter has her own problems regarding the fathers of her two children.  Jackson’s wife Loretta is the heart of the family and after realizing that she has allowed her husband to focus more on his pastoral duties than their family, works to reunite them despite the shadow of secrets which are revealed. A more urban take on Christian Fiction in that there is some sex  and mild profanity, this is a story of how one African American family turns to God, eachother and their community to figure out what really matters in life.

Subject Headings: African American families; Christian life; Family problems; African American clergy; Children of clergy; Spouses of clergy; Church membership; Christian fiction; Domestic fiction

Appeal: Character-driven, Compelling, Candid, Flawed characters, Inspiring characters, Family centered, Details of Christian Church, Thought-provoking, Urban, Conversational, Melodramatic, Poignant

3 Terms that best describe this book: Character-driven, Family-centered, Compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) The Black Church in America: African American Christian Spirituality (Religious Life in America)by Michael Battle

This book provides a historical perspective about how the Black Church in America came to be including its African roots, the doctrine and practices of the churches and how denominations were formed. Battle also discusses current beliefs, practices and modern day dilemmas facing the church today. This book might appeal to those interested in learning more about the background of the African American Christian Church which is one of the main “characters” in Let the Church Say Amen.

2) I Told the Mountain to Move by Patricia Raybon

Raybon’s frank book is part memoir and part tutorial about how she’s struggled with prayer among life’s many challenges and what readers might learn from what she’s discovered. This book might appeal to those who enjoyed the messages of faith and forgiveness through prayer prevalent in Let the Church Say Amen.

3) How We Got Over: Testimonies of Faith, Hope and Courage by Trevy A. McDonald and Bettye J. Allen (editors)

This collection of stories about real people who overcame a variety of obstacles from life-threatening situations to broken family relationships might appeal to those readers who were inspired by the Jackson family’s courage and ability to keep the faith regardless of life’s problems in Let the Church Say Amen.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  The Reverend’s Wife by Kimberla Lawson Roby

This book centers on the story of Reverend Curtis Black as he struggles to decide whether to forgive his unfaithful wife who is working hard to reconcile or consider a proposition by another woman who loves and wants to marry him. Those who enjoyed Let the Church Say Amen because it’s a character-driven story about African American clergy might enjoy this book.

2)  Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

This book is about John Grimes who experiences a religious conversion while his family struggles with guilt, bitterness, and spiritual issues. Like Let the Church Say Amen, this book is centered on an African American family who turns to faith and the church to solve life’s problems.

3) Have a Little Faith by Jacquelin Thomas, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, J.D. Mason and Sandra Kitt

This collection of stories from four bestselling African-American authors introduces a group of women who discover how life can open up if one has faith. A book for those who enjoyed the themes of faith, family and forgiveness in Let the Church Say Amen.

Name: Bridget Optholt

Watchmen

August 8, 2012

Author:  Alan Moore; illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Title:  Watchmen

Genre:  Graphic Novel, Superhero

Publication Date:  Originally published as a 12 issue comic book miniseries in 1986 – 1987.

Number of Pages:  Complete paperback edition — 408

Geographical Setting:  Various parts of the United States, Vietnam, Antarctica, Mars.

Time Period:  Alternate History 1985; several flashbacks dating back to the 1940’s.

Plot Summary:  In Alan Moore’s groundbreaking and influential graphic novel, masked crime fighters have existed since the 1940’s, and their presence has greatly influenced the outcome of world events.  Thanks to Dr. Manhattan (an atomic being who is also the  only character with actual superpowers), the United States has won the Vietnam War and in the present 1985, Richard Nixon is still president.  Now, the world is on the brink of nuclear war, and someone just murdered Edward Blake, a former superhero and notorious CIA operative known as The Comedian.  As Rorschach, a psychotic vigilante and former member of Watchmen (a later superhero team which included The Comedian, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Ozymandias) investigates Blake’s murder, he uncovers a plot that could save the world from annihilation, but, at an unimaginable price.  By presenting superheroes with very real and tragic human flaws, Moore deconstructs the superhero genre, and presents the reader with a familiar world that is both rich in detail, and terribly bleak.

Subject Headings:  Heroes — Comic books, strips, etc. ; Assassins — Comic books, strips, etc.; Imaginary histories — Comic books, strips, etc

Appeal:  Compelling, densely written, atmospheric, bleak, contemplative, foreboding, gritty, paranoid, philosophical, sophisticated, strong secondary characters, vivid, well-developed, cinematic, episodic, investigative, layered, multiple plot lines, open-ended, thought-provoking, detailed setting, urban, well-crafted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Character-centered, complex,  multiple point of views

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Kick-Ass – Written by Mark Millar; Illustrated by John Romita Jr.

Dave Lizewski is a comic book-obsessed teenager who decides he wants to become a superhero in real life.  Putting on a green costume and calling himself, Kick-Ass, Dave hits the streets.  But, he quickly discovers that the real world has consequences far more frightening and brutally violent, than the than the heroic adventures in his favorite comic books.  Both Kick-Ass and Watchmen deconstruct the superhero genre, and illustrate just how physically and emotionally taxing it is to be a masked crime-fighter in the real world.

2)  The Boys – Written by Garth Ennis; Illustrated by Darick Robertson

In this ongoing and darkly-humored series, superheroes exist in the real world but most of them are corrupt, amoral, and only care about their celebrity status and hedonistic lifestyles.  Their heroic actions, which are staged for the media by a ruthless corporation known as Vought-American, not only result in massive collateral damage, but also puts the very existence of the world at risk.  Because of this, “The Boys,” a super-powered CIA team is charged with monitoring and policing the superhero community.  Again, both Watchmen and The Boys deconstruct the superhero genre by presenting superheroes as deeply flawed and corrupt individuals.

3)  The Dark Knight Returns – Written and illustrated by Frank Miller

In a dystopian future, a sixty-something Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement by putting on the cape and cowl to once again rid Gotham City of crime, corruption, as well as a vicious new gang known as “The Mutants.”  With the aid of a new female Robin, named Carrie Kelly, Batman resurfaces in a world where masked crime-fighters have been outlawed, and the only superhero who is able to legally operate is Superman, a puppet for the Reagan white house.  Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were released around the same time, and have both garnered massive and well-deserved acclaim.  Both also take place in dystopian settings where superheroes have been outlawed, and feature characters who find redemption by coming out of retirement.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human by Grant Morrison

Groundbreaking comic book author, Grant Morrison, muses on the genre of superheroes and how its characters have become permanent fixtures in our modern-day mythologies.  This is a great companion which examines the role superheroes play in our daily lives.

2)  Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen by various authors

Twelve different authors present their observations and analyses of the many plot points, themes, and symbolic imagery of Watchmen.  This makes for an excellent companion to Moore’s graphic novel.

3)  Alan Moore:  Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge

Another excellent companion to Watchmen, this book offers an in-depth retrospective of the life and prolific career of comic book author, Alan Moore.  Moore’s creative process is examined, and a behind the scenes look is given of some of his most popular and influential works.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World War Z

August 1, 2012

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Author:  Max Brooks

Title:  World War Z

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date:  September 12, 2006

Number of Pages:  Hardcover – 342

Geographical Setting:  Many locations throughout the world.

Time Period:  Ten years after the decade long war waged against zombies.

Series:  Technically not part of a series, but Brooks has written other zombie books that are presented as non-fiction.

Plot Summary:  Written in the form of an oral history (identical to that Studs Terkel), Max Brooks’s first novel is composed of first-person accounts of the decade long zombie war, known as World War Z.  Starting in China with the first infected Patient Zero, the book chronicle the virus as it spreads and devastates the globe, nation by nation.  After many mistakes and hard lessons learned, humanity eventually perseveres, but now exists in a world of serious religious, geo-political, and environmental consequences and implications.  Although World War Z is a horror story on the surface, Brooks uses it as a platform to criticize government ineptitude, corporate corruption and human short-sightedness.

Subject Headings:  War, Zombies, Imaginary Wars and Battles — Fiction, Horror Fiction, War Stories

Appeal:  Builds in intensity, compelling, candid, bleak, dangerous, hopeful, nightmare, vivid, recognizable, metaphorical, journalistic, thought-provoking, episodic, explicitly violent.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Multiple points of view, realistic, menacing atmosphere

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

This ongoing graphic novel series deals with a group of survivors trying to survive in a world overrun be zombies, or the walking dead.  Both this series and World War Z feature a large cast of characters that exist in a world plagued by zombies.

2)    Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

An oral history of Buster “Rant” Casey, the creator of an urban demolition derby, and the man responsible for the world larges rabies outbreak.  Both novels are written in the form of an oral history, with several different point of views by various colorful characters.  The section of the book which deals with the rabies epidemic is humorously similar to that of a zombie movie.

3)    The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

A collection of short stories by various authors that cover a broad spectrum of zombie fiction.  There are many different versions of the “zombie story” and this collection gives the reader a great idea of what is out there.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture by Kyle William Bishop

A history, as well as analysis and critique of the zombie creature as it exists in today’s popular culture.  This book gives the reader a great look at the origins of this very popular American icon.

2)    The Good War: An Oral History of World War II by Studs Terkel

This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection covers World War II from every possible point of view of those directly and indirectly involved.  World War Z, especially it’s writing style, was heavily influenced by this as well as other works by Terkel.

3)    The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS by Jonathan Engel

Chronicles the devastation AIDS epidemic and the impact it’s had on our modern world.  A large portion of World War Z is commentary on global pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, and this book gives a thorough overview of the devastating virus.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One

July 30, 2012

Author:  Ernest Cline, Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton

Title:  Ready Player One

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date:  August 16, 2011

Number of Pages:  Hardcover – 372 pages; Audiobook — 13 discs (15 hr., 41 min.)

Geographical Setting:  OASIS, a virtual reality/internet utopia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio.

Time Period:  Future, the year 2045

Plot Summary:  In Ernest Cline’s fun first novel, past and future collide in a geeky and nostalgic quest for the ultimate prize.  In the year 2045, the word is very bleak, and like most of humanity, 17 year-old orphan Wade Watts, lives most of his life plugged into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual reality and internet utopia, where anyone can be whoever they want to be.  OASIS creator, James Halliday, suddenly dies and it is revealed that not only is there no heir to his fortune, but that there are now three keys hidden somewhere in the OASIS.  Whoever finds the keys and solves their accompanying riddles first, inherits Halliday’s wealth as well as total control over the OASIS itself.  Halliday’s riddles and each of their clues are based on his favorite pop culture of the late 20th century, especially the 1980’s.   After years of no discovery of even the first key, Wade manages to become the first one to do so. He instantly becomes the most famous person (in the form of his avatar named, Parzival) in the world, relaunches a frenzy of competition for Halliday’s prize, and becomes the target of IOI, an evil corporation that is not only vying for control of the OASIS, but that is also willing to commit murder in the real world to do so.

Subject Headings:  Regression (Civilization), Virtual reality, Utopias, Puzzles

Appeal: accessible, earnest, cinematic, contemporary, detailed setting, fast paced, humorous, quirky, urban, jargon, sympathetic, lighthearted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Nostalgic, Richly-detailed, Action-packed

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to defeat an invading alien race, young Ender Wiggin, is recruited to fight in the ultimate war, where the line blurs between games and battle.  Both novels take place in the future and involve young protagonists who must use gaming skills to protect the world.

2)    For the Win by Cory Doctorow

      In a dystopian future, poor teenagers and children are forced by corporations to work in massive multi-player online games to mine for valuable objects.  In order to escape from slavery, the kids plot their escape.  Both novels are about teenagers squaring off against evil corporations in a virtual, online environment.

3)    Jennifer Government  by Max Barry

      Set in a comically dystopian future where corporations own entire continents and force their employees to take on the names of companies as their last names.  Both novels have comedic tones and writing styles, as well as the fact that both satirize today’s Corporate America.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die edited by Tony Mott

      A huge portion of Ready Player One deals with video gaming history and culture, and this immense reference book is a thorough guide for the uninformed.

2)    VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s by Hal Leonord Corp.

      Ready Player One also deals with a ton of 1980’s pop culture, especially music.  This book lists the decade’s top songs.

3)    The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

      Based on various statistics, interviews, and observations, the author predicts what the world will be like in the next 40 years.  Ready Player One takes place in 2045, and the above book makes a nice companion to Cline’s novel.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fortress Of Solitude

July 23, 2012

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Author: Jonathan Lethem

Title:  The Fortress of Solitude

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: September 2003

Number of Pages: 528

Geographical Setting:  Brooklyn, NY

Time Period:  1970’s — 1980’s

Plot Summary:  Jonathan Lethem’s semi-autobiographical novel follows the parallel stories of Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude, two friends growing up in Brooklyn, NY during the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Dylan is white, and is constantly bullied by his Black and Hispanic peers.  He’s also struggling to deal with his mother’s abandonment of him and his emotionally distant artist father.  Mingus is black, and while dabbling in petty crime, he helplessly watches his father, a formerly successful soul musician, destroying himself with drugs.  The two teenagers’ friendship is built on their mutual love of superhero comic books, graffiti tagging, and they’re possession of a magic ring (given to them by a dying homeless man) which grants its wearer the powers of flight and invisibility.

Subject Headings:  Male Friendship, Race Relations, Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.), The Seventies (20th century), Bullying and bullies, Magic Rings

Appeal:  Leisurely-paced, Autobiographical, Urban, Nostalgic, Candid, Descriptive, Lyrical, Poetic, Epic, Authentic, Character-driven, Multiple point of views, Vivid, Episodic, Tragic, and Details of comic books, graffiti tagging, drugs, and music

3 terms that best describe this book:  Character-driven, Strong sense of time and place, Tragic

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 1)    The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Deals with a character coming-of-age in a multicultural and urban setting during the 1970’s and 1980’s.  He is also bullied and seeks refuge in comic books and science fiction.

2)    The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

On the eve of his twentieth birthday, a young man prepares for college while trying to win over a girl named Rachel.  A character-driven coming-of-age novel.

3)    Emmaus by Alessandro Baricco

A lyrical, coming-of-age story that follows four friends as they move from adolescence to manhood, while being attracted to the same woman.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 1)    Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe by Ron Goulart

The two protagonists are obsessed with comic books, and many different titles and characters are referenced.  The above encyclopedia serves as an excellent guide to those unfamiliar with comic books, especially those that deal with superheroes.

2)    The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, edited by John B. Manbeck

Brooklyn, NY, especially the section known as Boerum Hill, plays a pivotal role in the novel, and the above book gives a thorough introduction to those unfamiliar with the city’s many nooks and crannies.

 3)    Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s by Jack Stewart

The characters in the book spend a great deal of time perfecting their graffiti tags throughout Brooklyn’s many landmarks.  This book deals with the origins of this controversial urban art form.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer