Posts Tagged ‘vivid characters’

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

February 15, 2012

Author: Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Florida and Wales

Time Period: Present day and 1940

Series (If applicable): Second book forthcoming

Plot Summary: Sixteen year old Jacob has spent his life listening to his grandfather’s stories about growing up in a children’s home during World War II. He is regaled with stories of children who levitate, who can lift boulders, and who are invisible. As Jacob grows up he loses confidence in the truth of the stories, but never loses his affection for his grandfather. Life changes suddenly one day with his grandfather’s brutal murder, which sends Jacob on a downward spiral of depression. Then, in an effort to find the truth behind his grandfather’s life and death, he travels to the small, isolated Welsh island where the children’s home was located. On this lonely island Jacob discovers more about his grandfather and himself than he could have imagined. He finds an island filled with peculiar children, dangerous monsters, and long-kept secrets, and as the book progresses he finds his life becoming more and more inextricably linked to the island and its inhabitants. The photos included throughout the book add an air of authenticity to this atmospheric, captivating mystery.

Subject Headings: Orphanages — Fiction.
Islands — Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.

Appeal: atmospheric, haunting, magical, vivid characters, complex, imaginative, accessible, darker, open-ended, dramatic, engrossing, compelling

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

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II, Tara Zahara—Deals with child refugees, family relationships and World War II.
American Sideshow: An Encyclopedia of History’s Most Wondrous and Curiously Strange Performers, Marc Hartzman—Profiles many people whose unusual characteristics made them a success as sideshow performers.

A History of Wales, John Davies—Provides background information about the area in which most of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children takes place.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Secret Hour, Scott Westerfield—Features children with secret powers facing monsters/predators, storyline contains elements of time shifting, and the story is compelling and suspenseful.

The Aviary, Kathleen O’Dell—Contains magical elements, the plotline features family secrets and mystery elements, and is suspenseful, atmospheric and magical.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—Jonathan Safran Foer—Dark story with fascinating characters, and featuring images that assist in the storytelling.

Name: Amanda

Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson

April 20, 2011

0446675601.01._SX220_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg (220×344)Author: Nalo Hopkinson

Title: Midnight Robber

Genre: multicultural science fiction

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: The fictional planets of Toussaint and New Half-Way Tree

Time Period: distant future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: On the utopian, Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, violent criminals are exiled to the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree.  Innocent young Tan-Tan is unjustly thrust into exile there when her convicted father, Antonio, drags her along.  Antonio’s selfish actions continue to add additional layers of misery onto a life already made difficult for Tan-Tan by the harsh realities of New Half-Way Tree.  As a child, Tan-Tan loved to play the role of the legendary Robber Queen; after a horrendous trauma inflicted by her father, the role of the Robber Queen becomes reality for Tan-Tan, whose struggle for survival in New Half-Way Tree is also a struggle to reconcile the various parts of her identity.  Along the way, Tan-Tan meets aliens, dangerous beasts, and a vengeful stepmother.  Hopkinson’s rendering of the future mixes the idea of nanotechnology with Caribbean legends, to create an unconventional and fascinating science fiction experience.

Subject Headings: Abuse; Aliens; Caribbean culture; Carnival; Exile;  Fathers and daughters; Legends; Nanotechnology

Appeal: character-centered, descriptive, detailed setting, dangerous, folksy, imaginative, hard-edged, homespun language, imaginative, mythic, moving, poetic dialect, vibrant, violent, vivid characters, well-crafted, world-building

3 terms that best describe this book: imaginative, poetic, vivid characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, edited by Thomas Glave – Homosexuality is common and accepted by the Caribbeans in Midnight Robber. Readers who enjoyed that aspect of the novel may enjoy this collection, which like Midnight Robber also features some patois.

Carnival: Culture in Action – The Trinidad Experience, edited by Milla Cozart Riggio – Carnival plays a major role in Midnight Robber. Those who enjoyed the colorful descriptions of Carnival customs and pageantry may enjoy this book, which includes both text and photo essays.

The Kiss: A Memoir, by Kathryn Harrison – Like Midnight Robber, a book about an incestuous father-daughter relationship, and the daughter’s attempt to reclaim her life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy –  like Midnight Robber, this is a work of moving, character-driven, feminist science fiction that features a utopian future and its dystopian alternative.

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban – Readers who enjoyed the creativity of the language in Midnight Robber may appreciate this classic in the science fiction genre; like Midnight Robber, it was also written with an invented dialect.

The Girl with the Golden Shoes, by Colin Channer –  A young, Caribbean girl is exiled from her community; the book also features poetic patois.

-Noelle Nightingale

Y: The Last Man: Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

April 13, 2011

Author: Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Title: Y: The Last Man: Unmanned

Genre: Graphic novel, science fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 126

Geographical Setting: Various U.S. cities (esp. Boston and Washington, D.C.), Australia, Israel

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Y: The Last Man (1st in the series)

Plot Summary: A mysterious plague abruptly wipes out every single male mammal on earth – with the exception of Yorick Brown, an escape artist in New York City, and his male Capuchin monkey, Ampersand.  Although Yorick has somehow mysteriously survived the plague, it’s uncertain whether he will survive the desires of the various factions that form in the plague’s aftermath.  The surviving members of the U.S. government (including Yorick’s mother) want Yorick to ensure the survival of the human race, while a group of extremist women known as Amazons, who think the world is better off without men, want Yorick dead.  All Yorick wants, however, is to reach his girlfriend Beth, in Australia – even with the help of the mysterious Agent 355, however, that’s no easy task.  Will Yorick be able to stay alive, solve the mystery of his immunity to the plague, ensure the survival of the human race, and find Beth in the process?

Subject Headings: Capuchin monkeys; Cloning; Escape artists; Extremists; Gender issues; Government factions; Israeli women soldiers; Plagues; Survivors; Women.

Appeal: accessible language, adventure-filled, darker, dystopian, engrossing, episodic, explicitly violent, fast-paced, hard-edged, strong language, vivid characters, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: post-apocalyptic, adventure-filled, vivid characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Serial No. 3817131, by Rachel Papo – A compelling, mostly visual (photography) book that explores gender roles through its photos of female Israeli soldiers (who also play a role in Y: The Last Man).

Points Unknown: The Greatest Adventure Writing of the 20th Century, edited by David Roberts – engrossing adventure writing about people being pushed to their limits.

Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen – a graphic novel suitable for either adults or young adults, with a young male protagonist whose world is disrupted, causing him to set out on a journey.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

-Children of Men, by P.D. James – engrossing, hard-edged, character-driven sci-fi story in which the survival of the human race is threatened because no more children are being / can be born.

The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard  – A graphic novel about an epidemic and the struggle to survive by those left behind. Like Y: The Last Man, this is also a winner of the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.

­-Albert and the Others, by Guy Delisle – Like Y: The Last Man, this is a graphic novel with black humor, that delves into gender issues and the relationship between men and women.

-Noelle Nightingale


April 6, 2010

Author: Michael Flynn
Title: Eifelheim
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication date: 2006
Number of pages: 316
Geographical setting: Oberhochwald, Germany & United States
Time period: 1340s & modern time
Plot summary: Set in 14th century plague ravaged Europe and modern day America, Michael Flynn’s novel Eifelheim tells of the story a German priest, Dietrich who must help guide his people contend with the Black Plague, which is slowly encircling his small town. If this were not enough, Dietrich contends with the new inhabitants of just outside of Eifelheim, the grasshopper-like, alien Krenken. Following parallel to this storyline in modern times is Tom, a historian, and girlfriend, Sharon, a theoretical physicist, who are trying to discover what happened to the village of Eifelheim, which has long since disappeared. Despite the 700 year distance in the two stories, Eifelheim asks age old questions such as science and faith, as well as the very definition of what it is to be human.
Subject headings: Villages — Germany, Aliens (Insectoid), Plague
Appeal: compelling, engrossing, intriguing, vivid characters, historical details, unhurried, bittersweet, engaging, poignant
Three terms that best describe the book: Philosophical, Well-Developed, and Timeless

Similar authors and works:
Taylor Anderson’s Maelstrom is the final book in the Destroyermen Trilogy, following Mathew Reddy and his crew, the U.S.S. Walker. Reddy and his new allies, the Lemurians, must defeat the reptilian Grik to save the world. Like Eifelheim this work deals with humans conflicting/coexisting with aliens.
Christopher Anvils’ The Trouble With Humans covers a group of aliens with better technology then the human race and could easily take over the Earth. However, humans and their planet are a mystery to the aliens who do not understand the inhabitants and nature of the Earth. This book also looks at human/alien interaction.
Alan Dean Foster’s Quofum, is about an space expedition to the planet Quofum and its mysterious inhabitants. This is part of the Pip and Flinx saga that deals with a group of scientists’ dealings with the inhabitants of Quofum. One of the common themes shared by Eifelheim and Quofum is the human’s first contact with extraterrestrials.

John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time. Kelly’s work discusses the Plague and the grip it had over Europe. The Plague is a underlying slowly becoming a central theme on Eifelheim, as the Black Death encircles the little village.
David Patten’s Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51. Journalist David Patten chronicles his investigation into the happenings and sightings in Roswell and Area 51. Patten tries to find the truth through interviews and research. Patten’s work ties in with Eifelheim’s theme of possible human/alien contact.
Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Diamond examines various societies through time to see how they failed and what they could have done to survive. Diamond also discusses current societies and discusses how they can solve their problems based off of failures of past societies. Like Tom in Eifelheim, Diamond examines lost societies, trying to find out what happened to them.


March 17, 2010

Author:  Belinda Bauer

Title:  Blacklands

Genre:  Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Shipcott, Somerset, England

Time Period:  21st century

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  Blacklands, Belinda Bauer’s first novel, is the story of a small boy and his desire to heal his broken family by locating the body of his long-murdered boy-uncle Billy.  Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb believes that once he uncovers Billy’s body from nearby Exmoore, his Nan will stop her eighteen-year wait for her son to come home.  Desperate, Steven begins a correspondence with Billy’s likely murderer, convicted child-killer Arnold Avery, and asks for help in finding the body.  Intrigued by his new pen pal, Avery begins to relive his heinous crimes through Steven’s mission.  The game Steven plays with the child killer turns dangerously real as he unwittingly gives Avery’s life a chilling purpose.

Subject Headings:

Boys –England –Fiction.

Missing persons –England –Fiction.

Murder –Investigation –England –Fiction.

Serial murderers –Fiction.

Exmoor (England) –Fiction.

Appeal: compelling, deliberate, engrossing, closely observed characters, multiple points of view, vivid characters, character centered, domestic, contemporary, stark, chilling, foreboding, suspenseful, descriptive

3 terms that best describe this book: chilling, disturbing, psychological

Similar Authors and Works:


1.  Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America by Paula S. Fass (a study focusing on the American public’s reaction to kidnapping; appeals to readers interested in child abduction as well as profiles of real life kidnappers)

2.  How to Make a Serial Killer: The Twisted Development of Innocent Children into the World’s Most Sadistic Murderers by Christopher Berry-Dee and Steven Morris (an investigation of notorious killers and their lives; for those interested in details of psychological profiling)

3.  The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murderers by Harold Schechter (a exhaustive compilation of murderers- some dating back to the 15th century- and their offenses; for those truly interested in the details of serial killers, their minds and their crimes)


1.  The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes (a London family suspects their upstairs lodger is a serial murderer; although it the time period is different than Bauer’s, this might appeals to fans of British murder drama)

2.  Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (an in depth portrayal of an Irish teenager’s path to becoming a murderer; appeals to fans of Bauer’s strong psychological characterization and rich character portraits)

3. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (a truly chilling and disturbing story of a believable killer; appeals to those enjoying suspenseful and detailed prose describing a killer’s sordid aspects of life)

Name: Elizabeth

Casino Royale

February 24, 2010

Author: Ian Fleming

Title: Casino Royale

Genre: Adrenaline, adventure

Publication date: 1953

Number of pages: NA (read Kindle edition)

Geographical setting: Northern France

Time period: 1950s

Plot summary: This is Ian Flemings classic that started the Great 007 Odyssey. British Secret Service operative Bond, James Bond, is a suave spy tracking Le Chiffre, a treasurer of a Russian-backed trade union, in Northern France. Le Chiffre is running a gambling racket at the posh Casino Royale to recover money he stole from the union. An expert gambler himself, Bond is sent to beat Le Chiffre, thus prompting Soviet spy group, SMERSH, to assassinate Le Chiffre, leading Bond and the Secret Service to SMERSH. Bond is assigned the beautiful Vespa as his aid, and he soon falls for her. After a thrilling all-night baccarat game against Le Chiffre, Bond encounters more than he bargained for. After being captured and tortured, Bond manages to escape, but more questions remain about SMERSH, his lover, and his own future.

Subject headings: Bond, James; Spies — British; International intrigue

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, intriguing, vivid characters, action-packed, straightforward

Three terms that best describe the book: Suspenseful, hard-edged, and stylish

Similar authors and works:


James Chapman, in License to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, examines what impact the Bond films have had on our society and politics. Covering every film from 1962’s Dr. No to 2008’s Casino Royale, Chapman even looks at the actors who have played the iconic spy.

Bond Girls are Forever looks at the female characters in the Bond novels and movies and the actresses portraying them. Sometimes lauded as strong, self-confident role models or as sex objects, author Maryam D’abo investigates these icons from both sides of the debate.

Want to be James Bond? Sure we all do. And Jack Barth’s International Spy Museum’s Handbook of Practical Spying can help. This is practical guide that demonstrates how techniques from the international spy world can be applied to your every day life of avoiding carjacking and other petty crimes. No passport required!


John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold follows Alec Leamas, a Bristish agent in Cold War Berlin. Made to look the fool in order to go deep under cover, Leamas learns that there is no clear line between the bad guys and the good guys.

Our Man in Havanna represents author Graham Greene well — even though it was published over forty years ago. Darkly comic and satirical, we laugh and cry with a vacuum-salesman-turned-spy as he files reports he’s made up from Havanna, Cuba. Then his stories come true.

Another Berlin thriller, Ian McEwan’s The Innocent shows us that the world of espionage is more than fancy clothes and fast cars. Young Agent Marnham finds affairs, murder, and betrayal as he fights for his sanity and his life.

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