Posts Tagged ‘vivid’

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

Advertisements

Tell No One

October 3, 2012

Tell No One by Harlan CobenTitle: Tell No One

Author: Coben, Harlan

Publication Date: 2001

Pages: 339

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: Modern Day

Genre: Suspense

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: For eight years Dr. David Beck has been living under the shadow of his wife Elizabeth’s abduction and murder.  It was supposed to be a celebration, a trip to the family’s private lake commemorating the anniversary of the first kiss they shared when they were twelve years old.  What followed instead was a scream piercing the placid summer night and Beck’s last view of his wife before she was taken from him forever.  Unable to move on, Beck has thrown himself into his work at a pediatric hospital serving New York City’s poor.  But the absence that is Elizabeth cannot be filled.  That is until he receives an email containing information that only Elizabeth would know.  With only this one piece of desperate hope, Beck plunges into the middle of a web of secrets, lies, and hidden truths that all lead back to one central question: Did Elizabeth die all those years ago, or is there something else afoot?  Coben really moves the story along with quick chapters that shift viewpoint from first-person (Beck) to third-person.  Vivid language that verges on poetic draws the reader into the space of the novel.  Characters, both good and bad, doing all manner of surreptitious and shadowy things, populate the pages and lead the reader on a twist-filled sprint that is at the same time heartbreaking and hopeful, ruthless and tender.

Appeal Characteristics: Compelling, Breakneck, Intense, Dramatic, Multiple points of view, Plot twists, Suspenseful, Action-oriented, Cinematic, Details of New York City, Vivid, Complex, Descriptive, Heartbreaking, Resolved Ending

Subject Headings: Missing Persons, Murder, Frameups, Betrayal, Physicians, Husbands of murder victims, Serial murderers, Father and adult daughters, Husband and wife

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Compelling, Dramatic, Action-oriented

Similar Fiction: 

Vanished by Karen Robards

This novel also features the return of a missing person presumed dead, this time the protagonist’s young child.  The plot is fast-paced and suspenseful like Coben.  But where Coben’s novel contains light romantic elements, Robards is downright steamy.

High Crimes by Joseph Finder

Betrayal and conspiracy feature high in this novel where a woman must learn the secrets of her husband’s past in order to defend him in a top-secret, military court-martial.  The examination of the relationship between husband and wife as well as the breakneck speed with which secrets are unveiled will appeal to readers of Coben. 

Money to Burn by James Grippando

Another wife who disappeared under mysterious circumstances may have returned from the dead, but this time, she’s out to financially ruin her husband.  A tale of corporate espionage set against the backdrop of Wall Street, this novel contains plenty of twists and deceptions to boot.

 Similar Non-fiction:

The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn

Mysterious and unsolved cases set against the backdrop of New York City.  This book offers an intriguing look at the detectives who work to solve cold cases against the obstacles of time, technology, and department politics.

The Company We Keep: a Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer

Here readers will find the true story of a couple who met while on a mission for the CIA that echoes the theme of husbands and wives under difficult circumstances.

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

Scientific discovery and murder collide in this Edwardian era true mystery.  Those who appreciated the technology aspect of Coben’s novel may find similar ground in this non-fiction.

Name: Jessica

In A Sunburned Country

August 15, 2012

Author: Bill Bryson

Title: In a Sunburned Country

Genre: Nonfiction, Travel Writing

Publication Date: May 15, 2001

Number of Pages: 335

Geographical Setting: Australia –Description and Travel

Time Period: Modern Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In this non-fiction travelogue, Bill Bryson writes of his preparation for, and adventures traveling around Australia, a land filled with friendly inhabitants, deadly and peculiar wildlife, wide open spaces, and one bizarre and interesting history. A quintessential incidental learning book, readers can’t help but pick up and become immersed in history, traveling and lodging tips, and Bryson’s witty and at times sarcastic impressions of an in many ways an undiscovered land. This book will make you both laugh out loud and cringe at Bryson’s details and experiences.

Subject Headings: Voyages and travels; Travelers; Bill Bryson – Journeys – Australia; National characteristics, Australian

Appeal: Funny, Humorous, Engaging, Witty, Engrossing, Leisurely-paced, Thoughtful, Thought-provoking, Strong sense of place, Detailed setting, Details of Australia, Descriptive, Well-researched, Vivid

3 Terms that best describe this book: Humorous, Detailed, Strong sense of place

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

This travel adventure begins when Hawks accepts a bet that he can travel around Ireland for a month with a mini-fridge as his companion, hoping that he’ll regain some sense of adventure and re-evaluate his life. Meeting many characters, you’ll find yourself rooting for Hawks and laughing along the way. This book might appeal to those who enjoyed the characters Bryson encountered during his journey and the strong sense of place prevalent in In a Sunburned Country.

2) Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison

Much like In a Sunburned Country, this is a funny, informative book written in a way that educates the reader while making him laugh at Allison’s tales of working as a leader of wildlife and eco-tourism trips in the African Bush.

3) A Year in the World by Frances Mayer

Although not as humorous as In a Sunburned Country, Mayer’s tale of traveling around the world, renting ordinary houses on ordinary streets and contemplating the meaning of travel and home pulls the reader into the journey with her, experiencing the lifestyle of each locale. It too has a strong sense of place and informs the reader while telling tales of voyages and travels.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

This classic WWII tale of love and war tells the story of a young Englishwoman living in Malaya who is captured by the Japanese and years later travels to the Australian Outback to find the man who helped save her.  Like In a Sunburned Country, it has a very strong sense of place and takes the reader on a journey to a more unknown Australia.

2)  Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

Set in New South Wales, the southeast part of Australia, this is the tale of a man who plants hundreds of different species of gum trees on his farm and tells his 19-year-old daughter that she can marry the first man to name all the species correctly. Many suitors show up and the story reads almost like a fairy tale. Like In a Sunburned Country, rural Australia serves as an important backdrop to the story.

3) Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

In this book, Cloudstreet refers to a broken down house on the wrong side of the tracks in Perth which is located in Western Australia. When two families move into the house, they turn it into a beautiful home against all odds and the reader follows the families over 20 years.  It’s a tale of another part of Australia: Perth, which Bryson visits and explores in his book as it’s called ‘the most isolated city on earth.’

Name: Bridget Optholt

Swamplandia!

August 8, 2012

Author:  Karen Russell

Title:  Swamplandia!

Genre:  Literary Fiction/Best sellers

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  Florida Everglades

Time Period:  late 20th century (1980’s)

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Ava loves the alligator-wrestling life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades.  When her mom—the theme park’s main attraction– dies, the family’s way of life is threatened.  The father goes to the mainland on a business venture; her sister falls in love with a ghost and disappears; and her big brother, Kiwi, gets a job at a rival park called The World of Darkness.  Ava sets out with the eccentric bird-man on a mission through the magical swamps to save her sister, but then she has to save herself.

Subject Headings:  Girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Amusement parks-fiction; Alligators-fiction; Everglades (Florida)-fiction.

Appeal: offbeat, witty, mystical, lyrical, quirky characters, vivid, imaginative, detailed setting, strong sense of place, compassionate, uneasy, changing points of view (two).

3 terms that best describe this book:  imaginative, lyrical, strong sense of place.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Florida Everglades by Connie M. Toops

History of the Florida Everglades, which is where Swamplandia takes place.

Crocodiles and Alligators of the World by David Alderton

Information on origins, evolution and distribution, courtship, reproduction, and many individual species paint a thorough portrait, with maps of their habitats.  References and pictures.  Besides wrestling them, Ava has a pet alligator baby.

The Enduring Seminoles:  From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism by Patsy West

Seminole Indians (mentioned in Swamplandia) and economic culture; Florida history, culture and tourism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

A young postal worker in a small Indian town, Sampath, climbs into a guava tree and becomes unintentionally famous as a holy man, setting off a series of events that spin increasingly out of control.  Humorous, offbeat and strong sense of place.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Similar to Swamplandia, because the teen girl is surviving without help of adults, there are descriptions of nature, and a similar writing style.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A zookeeper’s son, Pi Patel, sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.  It’s a journey with animals and literary.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man in the Picture

August 1, 2012

Author: Hill, Susan

Title: The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 160 p.

Geographical Setting: Cambridge, England and Venice, Italy

Time Period: Unspecified, but likely in the 1900s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: This fast-paced, old-fashioned ghost story begins with the narrator, Oliver, visiting his old tutor, Theo Parmitter, at Cambridge on a cold winter night.  While the two friends have had many conversations over the years, Theo chooses this night to tell Oliver the tale of his acquisition of an 18th century painting of Venetian revelers.  While his story starts as a regular trip to an art auction, it soon becomes evident that the painting is more than meets the eye.  As Theo tells Oliver the story of Lady Hawdon and the full history of love, revenge, and death behind the painting, the present starts to mirror the past in dangerous and mysterious ways.  Can Theo and Oliver escape the curse of the painting before it’s too late?  The novel alternates between the points of view of Oliver, Theo, Lady Hawdon, and Oliver’s fiancée, Anne.  Susan Hill uses concise chapters and descriptions to create an atmospheric, eerie, chilling, and suspenseful story of a painting that may be more real and powerful than anyone can imagine.

Subject Headings: Spirits; Carnival; Auctions; Wedding Presents; Portraits; Revenge; Universities and Colleges—England— Cambridge; Cambridge, England; Venice, Italy; Suspense Stories; Horror Stories; Ghost Stories;

Appeal: fast-paced, atmospheric, chilling, creepy, dangerous, darker, disturbing, foreboding, haunting, menacing, mysterious, nightmare, suspenseful, familiar intelligent characters, quirky and dangerous secondary characters, cinematic, layered, plot twists, tragic, atmospheric gothic setting, classic language, concise, dramatic, polished, restrained, vivid

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: mysterious, atmospheric, haunting

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Lore of the Ghost: The Origins of the Most Famous Ghost Stories Throughout the World by Brian Haughton and illustrated by Daniele Serra is a thought-provoking and vivid book about the history of ghost stories and an analysis of people’s fascination with the supernatural.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this haunting book focuses on the subject of spirits and old-fashioned gothic ghost stories.

Haunted England: Royal Spirits, Castle Ghosts, Phantom Coaches, and Wailing Ghouls by Terence Whitaker is an eerie book about various hauntings throughout England’s history.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this creepy book highlights the subjects of spirits and ghost stories in the same setting of England.

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R. A. Scotti is a fascinating book about the disappearance and return of one of the most famous portraits of all time.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book tells a mysterious and suspenseful story about a portrait

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a classic horror story about a woman, Mrs. Maxim de Winter, moving into the eerie home of her new husband, where the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, constantly reminds the new Mrs. Maxim de Winter of how inferior she is to the deceased first wife, Rebecca.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this well-written book with plot twists focuses on an atmospheric and haunting story in England about disturbed women as secondary characters who cannot cope with past events and attempt to destroy other women’s lives as a result.

The Uninvited by John Farris is a suspenseful ghost story about a woman, Barry Brennan, who finds a man one day who may or may not be real as she mourns the death of her boyfriend.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book tells a fast-paced disturbing ghost story about art, characters who cannot forget tragic relationships, and how fantasy can become reality.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a gothic horror story about a handsome man who never ages while a portrait of him reflects his moral decline.  Like The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, this book is a horror story with plot twists focused on a haunted portrait with special powers that takes place in England and contains characters who gradually give in to evil activities.

World War Z

August 1, 2012

https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/world2bwar2bz.jpg?w=204

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light a Penny Candle

August 1, 2012

Author:  Maeve Binchy

Title:  Light a Penny Candle

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  1982

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting:  Ireland, London

Time Period:  World War II, Post World War II

Series:  n/a

Plot Summary:  During World War II, ten year old English girl Elizabeth White is sent to Kilgarret, Ireland to live with her mother’s former schoolmate in Kilgarret, Ireland.  There, reserved and shy Elizabeth begins a lifelong friendship with the vivacious daughter, Aisling O’Connor.  It is Aisling who teaches Elizabeth to have faith in life and convinces her that if you light a penny candle at church, your most sacred wish will come true.  Five years later, Elizabeth returns to London, armed with a new sense of independence and love of life.  She pursues a career in art, against her parent’s wishes and embarks in a no-strings attached love life.  Aisling, meanwhile remains in Kilgarret, longing to exploring the world.  She is courted by the son of Kilgarret’s wealthiest families but cannot convince herself he would make her happy.  She escapes to London to meet up with Elizabeth.   They experience their past and present meeting while they struggle when they realize they are both involved and in love with the same irresistible man and how they choose to deal with it.  Their friendship spans through the war and after, through the trials and tribulations of life, including sorrow, dreams, love, and betrayal. 

Subject Headings:  Friendship – Fiction, Women, Self-Discovery, World War II, Women – Ireland, The Forties (20th Century), Men-Women Relationships.

Appeal:   Character-centered, leisurely paced, heartwarming, homespun, vivid, detailed, flawed characters, domestic, engaging, poetic, multiple points of view, emotionally-charged.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, heartwarming, engaging.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, who despite completely different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever. They have stayed true to this promise for thirty years, until evens and choices in their lives tear them apart.  This book’s appeal reflects the life-long female friendship that is similar to Light a Penny Candle.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.  
When Siddi inadvertently reveals some revealing things about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together using a scrapbook of childhood memories that they ask Vivi to put together.”   -Novelist Plus.    This story was chosen as a read-alike because it has multiple perspectives, is character driven, along with relationships that span a lifetime.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  After a night of drunken partying, Rachel sleeps with her best friend’s fiancée.  Rachel is consumed with guilt and intense feelings for the finance, forcing her to make a difficult choice.
This suggestion has more dramatic readalike because it features a female friendship but in a raw, gritty way, set in present day  in compared to Light a Penny Candle.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dear Helen: Wartime Letters from a Londoner to her American Pen Pal by Betty M. Swallow.   Between 1937 and 1950, a working-class Londoner and her American pen pal exchange letters.  The Londoner offers accounts on the Blitz and how World War II affected life in London.  This account gives the reader a look at what life could have been for the character Elizabeth if her mother did not send her to Ireland to live for the duration of the war.

The Story of Ireland: a History of the Irish People by Neil Hegarty.  A history of how Ireland has been shaped by outside influences through the past 2,500 years.   This book in particular touches when Ireland was neutral in World War II.

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 by David Kynaston.  This is the people’s history of post-World War II England as a social profile that links everyday lives to period events.  It pays tribute to the nation’s passionate dedication to survival and rebuilding.   After the war, Elizabeth and Aisling spends time in London.  This compliments the time period to give the reader a better sense of how life was during that rebuilding time.

Name:  Olivia Button

Jurassic Park

July 30, 2012

Author: Crichton, Michael

Title: Jurassic Park

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages: 399 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple Locations in the United States and Costa Rica

Time Period: 1989

Series: Has a sequel, The Lost World

Plot Summary: In this thrilling, fast-paced science fiction story, a genetic engineering corporation, InGen, successfully clones 15 species of dinosaurs.  Hoping to feature these previously extinct creatures in the greatest theme park of all time in an island off the west coast of Costa Rica, the visionary of the project, John Hammond, brings a group of people to evaluate it, including a paleontologist, Alan Grant, a paleobotanist, Ellie Sattler, an investment banker, Donald Gennaro, a mathematician, Ian Malcolm, a computer system analyst, Dennis Nedry, and Hammond’s two grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy.  While the theme park initially lives up to its fascinating premise, the underlying instability and chaos of the organization are apparent when an employee turns off the park’s power and security grid to steal dinosaur embryos for a competing genetic company, Biosyn.  The action that follows is a nightmarish fight for survival against several Tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptors, and other dinosaurs as every character tries to leave the island alive.  The novel alternates between the points of view of many different characters, although Ian Malcolm and his illustrations often serve as the main narrator and framework of Michael Crichton’s concerns regarding unregulated science and technology. As in many of his novels, Crichton uses clear language and technical details to tell a suspenseful and compelling story about the dangers of bioengineering and people’s desire to use science and math to control nature and the world.

Subject Headings: Genetic Engineering; Clones and Cloning; DNA; Dinosaurs; Prehistoric Animals; Amusement Parks; Business Sabotage; Scientists; Eccentric Men; Billionaires; Islands — Costa Rica; Science Fiction; Suspense Stories; Adventure Stories; Thriller Stories;

Appeal: fast-paced, compelling, dangerous, dramatic, foreboding, menacing, suspenseful, thought-provoking, thrilling, multiple points of view, flawed and recognizable characters, strong and interesting secondary characters, sympathetic characters, action-oriented, cinematic, violent, imaginative, issue-oriented, descriptive, detailed, informative, intelligent, persuasive, scientific, thoughtful, unique, vivid, well-crafted

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: unique, thrilling, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law, and My Life by Peter Larson and Kristin Donnan is an intriguing book about the politics and legal issues surrounding a real significant dinosaur discovery and excavation.

A Clone of Your Own?: The Science and Ethics of Cloning by Arlene Judith Klotzko is an informative and thought-provoking book about the moral and legal issues and history of stem cell research and cloning.

Blindsided: Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear by Jim Cole is a fascinating book about a grizzly bear that attacks the author during a trip to Yellowstone National Park and how despite his injuries, he still has empathy for grizzly bears and other animals that are still trying to survive in the wild.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston is an action-oriented, detailed science fiction thriller about Tom Broadbent who receives a journal from a dying man, Stern Weathers, in New Mexico that a murderer and the government is determined to get because of its description of the location of a special completely preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Shock by Robin Cook is a suspenseful and thought-provoking story about two Harvard graduate students Joanna Meissner and Deborah Cochrane, in Boston, Massachusetts, who investigate the use of their eggs at a fertility clinic and in the process, confront firsthand the hazards of cloning.

Esau by Philip Kerr is a fast-paced scientific story about Stella Swift, a paleontologist, who receives a fossilized skull from America’s greatest mountain climber, Jack Furness, and organizes an expedition to the Himalayas to investigate the possible new species that the skull represents.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

July 30, 2012

Author: Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Geographical Setting: Florida; Wales, British Isles

Time Period: 1940; 2011

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Ransom Riggs’s debut novel is filled with old, mysterious, and strange photographs of people doing incredible things such as, levitating and lifting a boulder. How people captured these images is a mystery in itself, but what is more fascinating is how Riggs integrates these images into his narrative. Growing up Jacob Portman’s grandfather, Abe, told him of incredible children he knew at an orphanage in the British Isles that Abe escaped from Poland too during WWII. Jacob rejects these stories until witnessing his grandfather’s brutal death. His death inspires Jacob’s journey to the British Isles in order to solve the mystery that was his Grandfather’s life. This book incorporates fantasy, history, magical realism, and thus will appeal to multiple genre readers. The mystery in the story is what propels the plot and hooks the reader. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a Young Adult novel that has captured the attentions of teenagers and adults alike because of it’s complex plot that incorporates time travel, history, and fantasy with the traditional coming-of-age story that only Riggs’s sophisticated storytelling could tell so well.

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

Appeal: compelling, suspenseful, psychological, vivid, sympathetic, detailed setting, plot twists, sophisticated, imaginative

3 terms that best describes this book: builds in intensity, well crafted, complex

3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:

Journey through the British Isles, Harry Cory Wright

Photographer, Harry Cory Wright, captures the beautiful, rural landscape of the British Isles. Explore pictures of the mountains, wooded glades, and beaches that will transport you to these islands. If in, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, you were a fan of the setting in the British Isles, then this book will help you visualize the world that Riggs so evocatively describes.

On the Home Front: Growing Up in Wartime England, Ana Stalcup

Join Ana Stalcup describe her life growing up during WWII wartime England. She discusses what it was like to have soldiers stay in her home, constantly seeing soldiers in her city, and dealing with the slow progress of the war. This book will provide detailed, historical background for what it was like growing up during WWII, similar to the children in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit, Robert Bogdan
Between 1840 and 1940, hundreds of people journeyed across America to display their incredible talents as sideshows or as a part of circuses. In the shows you could see Siamese twins, bearded ladies, and dwarves. Similar to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the orphans in the story would travel and display their strange abilities, and in Freak Shows learn about real people who traveled to display their skills. Also, there are interesting black and white photographs like in Riggs’s story, if as the reader, these mysterious photos peaked your interest.

3 Fiction Read-a-likes:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Another great Young Adult book for adults that incorporates unusual photographs, sympathetic characters, and solving the secrets of lost loved ones. Oskar Schell loses his father during the attacks on the World Trade Center, and Oskar is left to find a lock that his father’s mysterious key opens. Foer’s book is similar to Riggs’s because it is also psychological, sophisticated, and well crafted.

Big Fish: a Novel of Mythic Proportions, Daniel Wallace

When Edward Bloom was a boy his father traveled a lot and while growing up, Edward never felt as if he really knew his father. Whenever his father was home, his father would describe his travels as tall tales. As Edward’s father is dying, Edward tries to learn the truth about his father’s life and these tall tales. A great read-a-like choice for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children if they enjoy unearthing strange, mysterious pasts, compelling plots, magical realism elements, and family relationships.

11/22/63, Stephen King

Jake Eppingis has been enlisted to travel back in time to change history, and prevent the assassination of JFK. Readers who enjoyed routing for Jacob in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, will enjoy following and sympathizing with Jake in 11/22/63. Also, if in Rigg’s story you enjoyed the time travel, the history, and the detailed and atmospheric setting, then check out King’s new suspense story.

Name: Alison Kulczak