Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Heart-Shaped Box

April 5, 2011

Author: Joe Hill

Title: Heart-Shaped Box

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: Upstate New York, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  Aging rock star Judas (Jude) Coyne is a collector of macabre memorabilia.  His assistant, Danny, receives an email about an online auction in which a woman is selling her deceased step-father’s ghost, which haunts one of his old suits.  Judas wins the auction, and shortly receives a package of a heart-shaped box, with the dead man’s suit inside.  Soon, strange things start happening, as the dead man begins to appear to Jude.    Jude discovers that the ghost has ties to someone in his past, and that winning the auction for the old man’s ghost was no accident, but actually a sophisticated and morbid plan for revenge.  Quickly, Jude realizes that the ghost is trying use hypnosis and mind tricks that he had been an expert in when still living, to get him to kill himself and those around him.  Eventually Jude and his girlfriend, Marybeth, realize that in order to rid themselves of the ghost, they must confront the woman that sold it to them, and so they head out on a supernatural and bloody road trip of the American south.

Subject Headings: Horror Fiction; Music – Rock and Roll; Ghosts; Hypnosis; Paranormal

Appeal: Fast-paced, builds in intensity, chilling, foreboding, haunting, suspenseful, detailed characters, flawed characters, cinematic, flashbacks, imaginative, profanity, violence

Three terms that describe this book: Chilling, fast-paced, engrossing

Relevant non-fiction works:

Night Stalks the Mansion: A True Story of One Family’s Ghostly Adventure by Constance Westbie and Harold Cameron (The story of one family’s ordeal with a supernatural presence in their Philadelphia mansion)

Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross (The biography of one of the rock stars used as a model for Judas Coyne,  and whose song the book was titled after)

Hypnosis for Beginners by Dylan Morgan (A beginners guide to hypnosis, a skill used by the ghost to wreak havoc on Judas and Marybeth)

Relevant Fiction works:

The Dark Half by Stephen King (A horror novel about a supernatural being taking revenge for his own death)

The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin (A murder mystery involving a legendary rock band)

Darkness Falling: A Novel of Vampirism and Rock and Roll (Another novel that incorporates rock and roll into a horror/paranormal story)

Lee R. Sigman

Ghetto Superstar

June 21, 2009

Author: Turner, Nikki

Title: Ghetto Superstar

Genre: African-American/Urban Lit

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 262 p.

Geographical Setting: Richmond, VA and New York City

Time Period: Present day

Series: (if applicable) n/a

Plot Summary: Ghetto Superstar, is the gritty and fast-paced story of Fabiola Mays and her rise to stardom. She was born to sing and be a star, but she routinely faces one heartbreaking setback after another which nearly derails her from achieving her dream of signing a recording deal. Years pass and Fabiola continues to play gigs and pursue her dreams with the help of her mother, Viola, and sister, Adora. When Casino, a long forgotten gangster, who has bailed the Mays family out in the past, is shot, Fabiola feels she must help the man who helped her family during their darkest days. Fabiola tries to climb the ladder to success in this hopeful novel all while trying to resist shady industry moguls and thugs from dark side of the ghetto.

Subject Headings:

African-American singers; music trade – corrupt practices; Gang members; Men/women relationships; Hip-hop culture; fame; success (concept); women singers; urban fiction


Fast-paced, vivid characters, detailed, plot-centered, sexually explicit, strong language, violence, contemporary, urban, gritty, hopeful, unembellished, conversational, direct

3 Terms that best describe this book: gritty, urban, gang-life

3 Relevant Non-Fiction works and authors

Rob Kenner & Rakia Clark (eds.), The Vibe Q: raw and uncut, is about hip-hop in the U.S. and the history of rap music and the hip-hop movement. It includes celebrity interviews, criticisms and discussion of pop culture in the U.S.

Sean Donahue (ed.), Gangs: stories of life and death from the streets, discusses how ethnic groups and immigrants have turned to gangs for protection and support when it was offered anywhere else. Gangs, featuring writings drawn from fiction, nonfiction and journalism, takes the reader on a tour of this underground world and urban version of the American frontier.

Tricia Rose, The hip hop wars: what we talk about when we talk about hip hop, is a thorough discussion of the social aspects of hip hop in the U.S., the social change in the U.S., African-American social conditions in the U.S. and how hip hop is reflective of black culture and at the same time how it harms progression of African-Americans.

3 Relevant Fiction works and authors

Y. Blak Moore, The apostles, is a gritty novel about Solemn Shawn Terson who is the leader of the Apostles and wants to give up gang life to settle down with his pregnant girlfriend.

Erica Kennedy, Bling, is story of Mimi Jean, a small-town girl from Toledo, Ohio, and how a music mogul, Lamont Jackson, is determined to turn her into a megastar. The novel is filled with a strong feel for character and the vivid hip-hop music industry.

K. Roland Williams, Cut throat, is the vicious and gritty story of Quincy who is close to fulfilling his dream of becoming a solo artist. His quest to stardom sets off a battle between a nightclub owner and drug lord who wants to keep Quincy at the club, and the club owner’s wife, who owns a record label and wants to sign Quincy to a deal.

Name: Natalie Ochockyj

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

April 15, 2009

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Title: Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Genre: Latin American/Colombian fiction, literary fiction
Publication Date: 1981, 1982 (translation)
Geographic Setting:Colombia
Time Period: Modern; Early 20th Century
Series: N/A
A man returns to the town that a brutal murder occurred 27 years earlier in order to get to the bottom of it. If everyone knew Angela Vicario’s twin brothers were going to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring her, why did no one stop it? The more the story unfolds, the less is understood and at the end not only are the two murderers put on trial, but also the entire society.
Subject HeadingsDeath–Fiction; Honor–Fiction; Murder–Fiction; Revenge–Fiction; Colombia–Fiction
Appeal Terms:first person narrative, honor, revenge, murder, depictions of Colombian life, male/female relations, family relations, culture clashes, marriage, Colombian society, violence, flashbacks, violence, justice
Red Flags: violence against women, graphic murder, blood and guts, strong language
Read Alikes:
A tale of the dispossessed by Laura Restrepo: (depictions of Colombian life, violence, male/female relations, Colombian society)
The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz: (violence, murder, justice, revenge)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare: (revenge, murder, family relations, justice)
Columbia by Sarah Woods: A Bradt travel guide about the people and culture of Colombia.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden: The rise and fall of real life Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and how his network of terror kept the entire country hostage.
Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family by Karen Tintori: “But Josie had a sister that nobody spoke of. Her name was Frances, and at age sixteen, she fell in love with a young barber. Her father wanted her to marry an older don in the neighborhood mafia–a marriage that would give his sons a leg up in the mob. But Frances eloped with her barber. And when she returned a married woman, her father and brothers killed her for it. Her family then erased her from its collective memory. Even 80 years and two generations later, Frances and her death were not spoken of, her name was erased from the family genealogy, her pictures burned, and her memory suppressed.”
Name: Michelle B


March 19, 2009

Author: Louis L’Amour

Title: Hondo

Genre: Western

Publication Date:  1953

Number of Pages: 179

Geographical Setting:  Southwestern Arizona

Time Period: Post-Civil War (1870’s)


Plot Summary: Hondo Lane is a quick trigger, part Indian cowboy that travels alone across the deserts of Southern Arizona.  Occasionally picking up some work scouting for the military he occasionally will have run-ins with the Apache Indians, who are at this point trying to clear out all white men from their territory.  As a reader you get a sense of a lone man in the desert with his rough looking lone dog both dangerous as all get out, yet in need of settling down with a woman and in one permanent place.  Testosterone and tension fill the story with bar fights, Indian confrontations, battles, surprises and a little bit of love.  Danger is constant throughout the book as the woman that Hodo Lane meets lives on dangerous Apache territory and he needs to try and convince her to move to safety.  Unable to direct all of his attention to her due to his business for the army and also his own feelings of independence, he continues on to his destination.  Hondo wants to make his way back to the woman, but there will be Indians, a robber, and also the woman’s husband in his path.  Indian capture, vengeance, death, and the unforgiving desert lie in Hondo’s path to save the woman’s life and get his life onto the right path.


Subject Headings: Cowboys, Apache Indians, Arizona, Western Stories, Pioneer women, Insurgency, Ranches, Lone men, Gunmen, Indian raids, Desert tracking, Indian Tracking. Post-Civil War West, Army Scouts, Man and Dog relationships.


Appeal: intriguing; adventurous; fast-paced; suspenseful; character driven; dramatic; plot twists; resolved ending; scenic; dangerous; ruthless; traditional; accurate; historical details; details of Indian territory in the West, Army moving into Indian territory, surviving in the desert, living on a Ranch, Indian lifestyle, gambling, Indian/Army battles.


Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction: Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry.  Western takes the view point of an Indian point of few, 19th century, Texas rangers, trackers, pioneer life, desert, little bit of love.

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey.  Western, Rangers, Gunfighters, Woman ranchers, vengeance, strong male character.

Centennial by James A. Michener.  History of Native Americans and white settlers, descriptive of the land, homesteaders, pioneer life, western story, historical. This book is more about the place than any character.  A different perspective on the world Hondo lived in.

Non-Fiction: Cochise: the life and times of the great Apache Chief by Peter Aleshire.  Story of the only Native American to win a battle against the Americans.  Historical details of the Apache and the white settlers.

George Scarborough: The life and death of a lawman on the closing frontier by Robert K. DeArment. Story of a frontier gunmen and his role in settling the New Mexico and Arizona territories.

American nomads: travels with lost conquistadors, mountain men, cowboys, Indians, hoboes and bull riders by Richard Grant.  Story of a British journalist recounts his life wandering throughout the U.S. and realities of America’s nomads and other characters.

Name: Emily






The Old Spanish Trail

March 18, 2009

Author: Ralph Compton

Title: The Old Spanish Trail

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1998

Page count: 278

Geographical Setting: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California

Time Period: 1862

Series: Book no. 11 in the Trail Drive series

Plot summary: Don Webb and his Texan posse are thrilled to hear their friend, Warren Blocker, has made his fortune in Santa Fe and has agreed to purchase five thousand head of cattle from them. But when the cattle drive arrives in New Mexico, the men are shocked to discover that Blocker and his wife have already been robbed and murdered by a group of renegades. The Civil War is looming back in Texas and money there is scarce. Rather than return home empty-handed, the cowboys learn of another buyer in Los Angeles and embark on a harrowing journey to California in hope of selling off the herd. The men follow the Old Spanish trail, a route infamous for its rough terrain and hostile Indians. To complicate matters further, the group is being tailed by two gangs of outlaws bent on revenge and robbery. The men’s bravery and heroism, though tested at every turn, never wane in this exciting tale of camaraderie and the American frontier.

Subject Headings: Cattle Drives; Cattle drives—Old Spanish Trail; Old Spanish Trail; Western stories

Appeal: plot centered, page turner, suspenseful, action oriented, details of old west, historical detail, unpretentious, simple, concise, rural, stark, violence, recognizable characters

Similar Works (fiction): Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry (cattle drive from Texas to Montana, suspense and perilous situations)

Dark Trail to Dodge – Cotton Smith (story of an ambushed cattle drive en route to Kansas)

Trail’s End – Frederic Bean (dangerous trails, details hardships of a cattle drive from Mexico to Kansas)

Similar Works: (nonfiction): Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850 – Joseph P. Sanchez (narrative history of the Old Spanish Trail)

The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore – David Dary (historical accounts of another old west trail)

The Way West: True Stories of the American Frontier – James A Crutchfield, ed. (true life accounts of the American expansion westward)

Name: Suzanne