Posts Tagged ‘well-drawn characters’

Twenties Girl

October 31, 2012

Author:  Sophie Kinsella

Title:  Twenties Girl

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  435

Geographical Setting:  London, England

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  As if being recently dumped by her long-time boyfriend and struggling to manage a failing new business weren’t enough to deal with, 27 year-old Londoner Lara Lington suddenly finds herself haunted by her recently deceased, 105 year-old, Great Aunt Sadie, whom she had never met and never cared to know.  Sadie has come back as her 23 year-old self:  a beautiful, irrepressible, Charleston-loving flapper from the Roaring 20’s — and Lara is the only person who can see her.  Sadie’s ghost refuses to rest until she recovers a favorite necklace that has mysteriously disappeared from the nursing home where she resided, and she recruits a reluctant and disbelieving Lara to help with the search.  To Lara’s dismay, Sadie has no qualms about putting Lara in increasingly embarrassing situations as she relives the frivolity of her flapper days and assists in the hunt for her necklace.  Despite her frustrations, Lara soon learns that ghosts can come in pretty handy when dealing with competing love interests, high-stakes business dealings, and swindling family members.  In this heartwarming and funny tale, Lara grows to love and respect the Great Aunt she never knew, whom she learns had to cope with heartbreak and family drama not so very different from Lara’s own modern-day troubles.

Subject Headings:  Young women—Fiction; Families—Fiction; Treasure troves–Fiction

Appeal:  heartwarming, humorous, lighthearted, romantic, quirky, well-drawn characters, strong secondary characters, family relationships, imaginative, magical, strong language, contemporary, details of London, details of the Roaring 20’s, breezy, chatty, engaging, informal, witty

Three Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book:  humorous, heartwarming, quirky

Three Fiction Read-alikes:

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Like Twenties Girl, Helen Fielding’s funny, classic chick lit tale tells the story of a young, single London woman struggling to sort out the intricacies of love, family, and career.  Bridget’s quest to achieve inner poise, lasting love, and the perfect weight unfolds in the form of a diary kept over the course of an eventful year.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham

Readers of Twenties Girl who found pleasure in the ghostly interactions between Lara and Great Aunt Sadie and enjoyed learning about a bygone era, may also enjoy this humorous title by Lorna Graham.  Single, young writer Eve Weldon has moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in search of a job, romance, and inspiration for her writing.  Once settled into her new apartment, she finds it inhabited by the ghost of Donald, a member of the Village’s Beat Generation of the 1960’s, who asks for her help in completing his own unfinished work.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Readers who enjoyed the humor, quirky heroine, family drama, and elements of mystery that form the heart of Twenties Girl, may also enjoy reading about the adventures of Stephanie Plum, the incompetent bounty-hunter at the center of Janet Evanovich’s comic mysteries.  In this first title of the series, Stephanie puts her amateur tracking skills to work in an effort to hunt down a former high-school flame who has been accused of murder.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring 20’s by Lucy Moore

Through the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie in Twenties Girl, readers get a tantalizing taste of the attitudes, glamour, and scandal that epitomized the Roaring 20’s.  This title by Lucy Moore provides an enjoyable and entertaining history of the 1920’s, including discussion of the real-life personalities and the many significant social and political changes that came to define the era.

He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

A major plot line in Twenties Girl involves Lara’s desperate attempts to win back the boyfriend who dumped her, despite Great Aunt Sadie’s insistence that Lara deserves much better when it comes to matters of romance.  This popular relationship advice manual counsels women on how to stop obsessing about men who don’t really care about them and to instead focus on finding someone who does.

Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side by James Van Praagh

The ghost of Great Aunt Sadie becomes a major influence in Lara’s life in Twenties Girl.  In this title, Van Praagh explores the mysterious world of ghosts and spirits and, through the use of true ghost stores, illustrates how they actively participate in our daily lives.

Becky King

Devil in a Blue Dress

October 17, 2012


Title: Devil in a Blue Dress

Author: Mosley, Walter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, African American Fiction

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, California

Time Period: 1948, Post WWII

Series: Easy Rawlins

Plot Summary: Set in Los Angeles in 1948, this gritty novel follows Ezekiel Rawlins who goes by Easy.  An African-American WWII veteran, Easy just wants to enjoy his life and hold onto the house he worked so hard to get but he has just lost his factory job.  Easy tries to forget his troubles at his friend Joppy’s bar when he is offered money by the mysterious, white gentleman DeWitt Albright.  All he has to do is track down French beauty Daphne Monet, a lady who is said to frequent black jazz clubs, and he will have enough money to pay this month’s mortgage.  But what starts out as a straightforward mission leads to increasing danger and threats to his life.  With bodies piling up and the police eager to pin the crimes on him, Easy must find Daphne and solve this mystery in order to stay alive.  Winner of the Shamus best P.I. novel award and the first in the Easy Rawlins series, this book introduces a complex and engaging protagonist who goes from reluctant to empowered private investigator while also dealing with racial tensions during the 1940’s Los Angeles.  Mystery lovers can enjoy this private investigator novel that looks at social issues while also delivering an atmospheric, evocative story that has the feel of a film noir.  They can also watch the movie version of this starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals.

Subject Headings: African-American Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Los Angeles, California, Private Investigators, Race Relations, Rawlins, Easy, African American Men, Organized Crime, Missing persons investigation, The Forties (20th century), Gangsters, Political Corruption

Appeal: Builds in intensity Pacing, Edgy, Character-driven, Suspenseful, Intriguing Characters, Well-drawn Characters, Gritty, Historical Details, Issue-oriented, Stark, Investigative, Thought-provoking, Strong Language, Time period dialect, Atmospheric, Evocative

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Gritty, Historical details, Investigative

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

Set against the racially tense backdrop of Memphis in 1968, this historical mystery follows the activities of African-American private investigator Smokey Dalton.  He finds out that he is the recipient of $10,000 through rich,white Chicago heiress Laura Hathaway’s mother’s will.  Laura wants to know why Smokey was named the beneficiary, as does Smokey.  This search for answers leads to danger and mysteries for Smokey.  Another historical mystery novel that features an engaging African-American private detective narrator, while also offering an atmospheric story that deals with racial issues.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

In this noir fiction set in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, the story follows three troubled LAPD officers Ed Exley, Bud White and Jack “Trashcan” Vincennes as they deal with crime, corruption and violence over a 10-year period.  Enjoy this mystery novel that deals with corruption and violence during a similar time period.  Like Devil in a Blue Dress, this was made into a movie.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

In this classic noir novel, San Francisco detective Sam Spade must deal with his partner being killed in a stakeout, a valuable statue of a falcon being wanted, the appearance and disappearance of a mysterious redhead and enemies demanding a payoff that Sam does not have.  The stakes are high and Sam must figure out how to get out of this mess and get some answers.  Here is the go-to novel for a gritty, noir detective story.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein

If you want to delve a bit deeper into some of the racial issues explored in Devil in a Blue Dress, try this book that explores three American families whose self-identified race shifted from black to white over the years.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

Delve even deeper into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles from the1920s through the 1960s.  It dives into the world of crime, corruption, and violence along with the racial tensions of the city.  This book is suggested for those who wanted more details regarding the historical setting presented in Devil in a Blue Dress.

The Film Noir Encyclopedia by Alan Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio

Did you enjoy the book as well as the movie?  Then try this encyclopedia that covers film noirs in detail.  It explores the themes and motifs of the genre, while featuring pictures and stills of the movies and their stars.

Name: Margita Lidaka

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

Brimstone

August 8, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker, Audiobook read by Titus Welliver

Title: Brimstone (3rd book in Appaloosa trilogy)

Genre: Western

Publication Date: May 5, 2009

Number of Pages: 304 (Paperback), 4. 5 Hours (Audio Book)

Geographical Setting: The West (United States), New Mexico, Texas

Time Period: Old West: Early to Mid 1800’s

Series: Book 3 of Western Appaloosa Trilogy

Plot Summary: In this follow up to Parker’s Appaloosa and Resolution, we meet up with Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two gun-slinging old friends who have a reputation for cleaning up towns as lawmen-for-hire. In this adventure, Virgil seeks to find the woman who stole his heart in the town of Appaloosa, Allie French. Moving across New Mexico and Texas, Cole and Hitch find Allie and the three try to start over in Brimstone. Things are not that easy as too much has happened between Allie and Virgil. The town of Brimstone also has its problems which Cole and Hitch are hired to solve as town deputies. Tricky solutions are their specialty one of which ties together the book wonderfully. The dialogue and friendship between Cole and Hitch makes this story more character-driven and along with the gun-slinging showdowns, mysterious murders, and fast-paced action, makes for a wonderful western.

Subject Headings: Western stories; Friendship — men; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Murder; Redemption

Appeal: Character-driven, Exciting, Suspenseful, Fast-paced, Multiple plot lines, Atmospheric, Series characters, Descriptive, Detailed setting, Rural, Friendship story, Well-drawn characters

3 Terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Exciting, Character-driven western

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters by Bill O’Neal

True facts and stories as well as myths and folklore about 225 well known gun-slingers and those all but forgotten. A book for those wondering what it was really like to be a gunslinger in the Wild West like Virgil and Everett.

2) Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn by Evan S. Connell

For those readers looking for more information on the historical events of the Wild West in a form which reads more like a novel, this non-fiction story of Custer’s demise at Little Bighorn fills the reader with facts as well as a glimpse into Native American life and the characters involved in the battle.

3) The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

A book of essays about her experience moving from a city in the east to very empty Wyoming, Ehrlich captures what it must have been like to live in the West during the time of Virgil and Everett and what it might take the reader to adjust to cowboy life, wide open spaces and the harshest of winters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Black Powder, White Smoke by Loren D. Elsteman

This is a story about the adventures of a freed slave and white bandit who eventually cross paths and team up as they are pursued by the law for different reasons, and their fates and lives intertwine. This book is for readers who liked the fast-paced adventure and atmosphere of the West evident in Brimstone.

2)  The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard by Elmore Leonard

A collection of atmospheric, and gritty Western short stories written by Leonard over 50 years, including 3:10 to Yuma, this is for those readers who appreciated Brimstone for its rich characterizations, plot twists and fast pace.

3) The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

Touted to be one of the books which shaped the Western fiction genre, this classic novel from more than fifty years ago tells the story of the adventures and travels three frontiersmen who live in and long for big open spaces. A good pick for those who want to try earlier works of the genre and who enjoy the relationship between Virgil and Everett in Brimstone.

Name: Bridget Optholt

The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames

August 8, 2012

Author:  Jonathan Ames

Illustrator:  Dean Haspiel

Title:  The Alcoholic

Genre:  Graphic Novel

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  136

Geographical Setting:  New York City

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Famous mystery writer Jonathan A. wakes from a drunken stupor to find himself in a cluttered station wagon next to an old dwarf woman intent on making love to him.  Trying to remember how he got here, he reflects back to his adolescence when he first discovered alcohol and made a pact with his best friend Sal to get drunk every weekend throughout high school, thus beginning his lifelong self-destructive relationship with alcohol.  He moves to New York City after his parents die in a car wreck and begins working as a taxi driver, where he meets a drug-dealer who introduces him to cocaine.  After waking up in a garbage can, he decides to check himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.  Unfortunately, after leaving, his life continues to fill with tragedy: a girl he falls in love with abandons him yet continues to string him along, he learns that his best friend died of AIDS, his Aunt gets breast cancer, and he watches the World Trade Center burn down on September 11 from the roof of his apartment building.  Jonathan Ames’s The Alcoholic is a bleak, semiautobiographical tale of one man’s desperate and constant battle to overcome alcoholism.  Featuring flawed and lifelike characters with whom readers can sympathize, The Alcoholic is an emotionally-charged and sobering look at the horrors of alcoholism.  The illustrations are evocative, realistic, well-drawn, and superbly complement the narrative’s tone.

Subject Headings:  Alcoholics; Alcoholism; Addiction; Self-Destructive Behavior; Novelists

Appeal:  Compelling, unhurried, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, well-drawn characters, lifelike characters, character-driven, authentic, open-ended, candid, honest, gritty, engaging, self-deprecating, descriptive, darkly humorous, melancholy, moving, dramatic, melancholy, sobering, poignant, emotionally-charged, offbeat, reflective

3 terms that best describe this book:  Candid, melancholy, and sobering

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

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

In this moving and somewhat disturbing memoir, twenty-four-year-old Koren Zailckas candidly talks about her experience with alcoholism (which began when she was only 14), half-remembered drunken sexual encounters, rape, and alcohol poisoning. She gives an intimate look into the largely overlooked issue of binge drinking among teen girls and young women.  This book is suggested to those who want to read true stories about underage drinking and early alcoholism.

2)  Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs, in the witty and offbeat writing style he is known for, recounts his stay in an alcohol rehabilitation facility for gay men.  But when he leaves, his recovery is challenged when he falls in love with a cocaine addict and his best friend dies of AIDS.  Simultaneously moving and humorous, Dry is suggested to readers who want a closer look inside a rehabilitation facility and want to read how someone else dealt with losing a friend to AIDS.

3)  Stitches by David Small

Written in graphic novel format, Stitches is a poignant, grim, and deeply haunting memoir about the author’s childhood and adolescence among an emotionally unavailable family.  Young David ends up getting throat cancer from his radiologist father, who subjected him to repeated x-rays, and looses his ability to speak after surgery.  Distant, mute, and alone, David turns to drawing as an escape.  Although this suggestion is not about alcoholism or addiction, readers looking for a similarly powerful graphic novel could not go wrong with Stitches.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

A fictional version of Bret Easton Ellis attempts to change his drug-addled, binge-drinking lifestyle by marrying movie star Jayne Dennis, moving to the suburbs, and becoming a father.  Everything seems well for a while, but when he begins writing a pornographic shock novel his life goes from mundane and peaceful to bizarre and horrific.  He relapses back into alcohol and drug abuse, his house becomes possessed by an insidious spirit, someone begins copying the serial killings in American Psycho, and his neighborhood suffers an increase in child abductions.  Like The Alcoholic, this novel contains similar semiautobiographical elements and features a drug-abusing, flawed character as a protagonist.  Suggested to readers looking for something a bit more wild and offbeat than The Alcoholic.

2)  Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British ex-consul, escapes to Quahnahuac, Mexico on November 2, 1938—The Day of the Dead—in order to cut himself off from his loved ones and to drink himself to death.  His ex-wife, Yvonne, and his stepbrother, Hugh, travel to the small Mexican town in an attempt to save him, but to no avail.  Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano is renowned for its vivid and sympathetic portrayal of the horrors of alcoholism.  Like The Alcoholic, this semiautobiographical novel provides an unflinching look at alcoholism.

3)  Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s alter ego, is a derelict and a drunkard who aimlessly travels throughout America looking for work in dead-end occupations, loose and easy women, and, of course, his next drink.  This bawdy semiautobiographical novel recounts Henry’s experiences in gritty, candid details.  Jonathan Ames, author of The Alcoholic, has mentioned Bukowski as an important influence in his own writing.  Further, Factotum similarly tells the story of an alcoholic’s experiences.

Name:  Zach Musil

Room

August 8, 2012

  Author:  Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre:  Psychological Suspense, Bestseller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  321

Geographical Setting:  Not specified- probably North America

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  Five-year-old Jack has lived in Room his entire life.  His Ma was abducted at age 19 and forced to live in a one-room shed for seven years.  She has done the best she could raising a small child, making sure he has been fed and healthy and keeping their captor from coming near Jack.  But, as Jack gets older she knows they must get out and away from “Old Nick”.  Escape is dangerous and the outside world will be scary but Jack and Ma are ready for a new life and a second chance.

Subject Headings: Boys-Fiction, Mother and Child- Fiction, Kidnapping-Fiction, Psycopaths- Fiction, Escapes- Fiction

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, detailed characterization, intriguing, realistic characters, well- drawn characters, complex, issue oriented, thought-provoking, bittersweet, foreboding, candid, unusual style

3 terms that best describe this book:  compelling, well-drawn characters, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Anatomy of a Kidnapping- Steven L Berk
In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice.  This nonfiction book would interest readers who want to hear a true story of abduction from an adult point of view.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old; she was abducted from a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behavior raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garridos’ home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.  A Stolen Life was written by Jaycee herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991, up until the present. This book is a very similar, true-life story of Jack’s Ma in Room.

Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a “New York Times” scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  This is a compelling story about a woman breaking free from extreme adversity that readers of Room will thoroughly enjoy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
Che is an eight-year-old boy being raised by his grandmother in New York in the 1960’s.  His parents are radical student activists and Che has been yearning for them since he was very small, but his grandmother has kept him in relative isolation.  One day someone comes to take him back to his real parents and Che enters a wild journey that leads him to Queensland, Australia.  This book deals with the same themes of isolation and kidnapping that Room does.

The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell
A mother and a daughter live quietly in the rustic gatehouse of Shrove House, an isolated British estate. Their life seems perfectly ordinary except that daughter Liza has been kept isolated from the outside world for all of her sixteen years. And that she has seen her beautiful mother commit murder. Now, as the police come searching for a missing man, Liza’s sheltered, strange world begins to fall apart. Room and The Crocodile Bird are both haunting psychological suspense stories in which a child who grew up in isolation now faces the unexpected real world.

Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
When a newspaper heiress is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, she ends up surprising everyone by taking a new name and staying with her captors.  This story is loosely based on the Patty Hearst case and chronicles the next 16 months of Tania’s life in hiding with them.  Like Room, this book deals with the psychological effects of living in isolation and captivity.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Catching Fire

July 23, 2012

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire

Genre:  Adventure, Science Fiction

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  391

Geographical Setting:  Panem (North America in the future)

Time Period:  Post-apocalyptic

Series (If applicable):  The Hunger Games

Plot Summary:  In book two of The Hunger Games trilogy, the story of Katniss Everdeen is continued.  By surviving the games with Peeta Mellark in book one, she has unwittingly started stirring rebellion among the districts.  The evil President Snow is out to get her and his forces are ready to staunch the rebellion.  The lengths he goes in order to stop her and make them an example to the districts are horrifying and surprising.  When they are forced back into the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta must reach deep inside themselves and band together with the other contestants in a dramatic struggle for survival.

Subject Headings: Insurgency- Fiction, Survival- Fiction, Television programs- Fiction, Interpersonal relations- Fiction, Contests- Fiction, Dystopia- Fiction

Appeal:  breakneck pacing, detailed, dramatic, intriguing secondary characters, vivid, well drawn characters, action oriented, violent, open-ended, thought-provoking, bleak, darker tone, detailed setting, suspenseful, candid

3 terms that best describe this book:  action oriented, intriguing characters, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Tube Has Spoken:  Reality TV and History- edited by Julie Ann Tadeo and Ken Dvorak

The Tube Has Spoken provides an analysis of the growing phenomenon of reality TV, its evolution as a genre, and how it has been shaped by cultural history. Readers who enjoyed reading about the broadcasting of the Hunger Games, will like this look at reality television today.

Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution– Chun Yu

In China in 1966, Chun Yu was born as the Great Cultural Revolution began under Chairman Mao. Here, in verse, she recalls her childhood as a witness to a country in turmoil and struggle.  Readers interested in true stories of political oppression and revolution will enjoy this poignant memoir.

Democracy Incorporated:  Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism– Sheldon S. Wolin

This book is critical analysis of modern-day urban America, which Wolin claims is politically uninterested and submissive, much like the residents of the Capitol in Catching Fire are submissive and agree with whatever President Snow says.  A thought provoking read for those interested in government and democracy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Uglies- Scott Westerfield

Tally Youngblood, an Ugly, is excited to turn 16 so she can have the operation everyone gets to turn Pretty. A few months before her birthday though, Tally meets Shay who challenges some of her ideas about being Pretty. When Shay runs away before her operation, the authorities get a hold of Tally and tell her that she must locate Shay and give up their group or else she will not be able to turn Pretty. Tally finds the Smoke, but discovers it’s not so bad and that there are some sinister things going on back in Pretty Town.  Readers of post-apocalyptic adventure will appreciate this fast-paced, suspenseful novel and it’s proceeding books in the series.

The Wind-Up Girl- Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok.  Like Catching Fire, this book paints a bleak future of a dystopian world that will have readers racing through it.

The Alchemy of Stone– Ekaterina Sedia

Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets. However, this doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart.  Readers who appreciate the conflicted romance and adventure of Catching Fire will enjoy this book.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Appaloosa

February 15, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker

Title: Appaloosa

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: “untamed territories of the West”

Time Period: 1800s

Series (If applicable): 1st of the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch Series

Plot Summary: Renegade rancher Randall Bragg and his men have been living off the citizens of the small Western mining town of Appaloosa “like coyotes live off a buffalo carcass.” After Bragg kills the last marshal and deputy, Appaloosa’s aldermen hire town tamers Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to restore order in the town. Things seem OK after Bragg’s trial, but some twists, turns, and deception threaten the peace Cole and Hitch have brought to Appaloosa.

Subject Headings: Deputy marshals; Wanderers and wandering; Honor in Men; Ranchers Men – Friendship; Fugitives; Escaped convicts; Gunfighters; Outlaws; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Manipulation by women; Men/women relations; Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett

Appeal: Fast-paced, Atmospheric, Strong sense of place, Gritty, Hard-edged, Well-drawn characters, Familiar, Cinematic, plot-centered, Details of old West, Spare, Homespun,Witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced; Atmospheric; Gritty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Wallis, Michael. Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. “Both the facts and the legend pick up in 1877, when Henry—already known to some under the alias Kid—shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis’s reconstruction of the Kid’s exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis (Route 66 ) shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of ‘desperate men’ who knew how to handle a gun. Wallis, the host of PBS’s new American Roads , writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase (“the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves”). The writing style of Billy the Kid may appeal to reader’s who enjoyed Appaloosa‘s spare but witty dialogue.

Guinn, Jeff.  The Last Gunfight: the real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral—and how it changed the America West. “Describing the many social, political and other forces that set the stage for the gunfight (including new edicts regarding arrests and carrying guns), Guinn details the historic events of the cold afternoon of Oct. 26, 1881: drunken outlaw Ike Clanton’s wild threats against Wyatt Earp and Holliday; Virgil’s attempt (together with his brothers and Doc) to disarm Ike and his cowboy buddies; and the 30-second exchange of gunfire that left three cowboys dead. Just the facts—and still a great story” (Kirkus).  Like Appaloosa, The Last Gunfight is a fast-paced and compelling read that looks at lawmen who make laws and decisions that may straddle the line between right and wrong.

Tefertiller, Casey. Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.  “Using a wide variety of primary sources, Tefertiller manages to summon up a human, complex figure and, while not omitting flaws, to persuasively demonstrate that Earp believed in the law and did his best in hard times to defend it. A great adventure story, and solid history” (Kirkus). Though fictional, Cole and Hitch also believe in and do their best to uphold the law, though all three are flawed characters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Estelemen, Loren – Aces and Eights is the “dramatic account of the death of gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok and the trial of Jack McCall, the man hanged for the murder of Deadwood’s legendary marshal” (NoveList). Like Appaloosa, Aces and Eights is a fast-paced, atmospheric Western that revolves around a murdered marshal.

Leonard, Elmore.  Hombre features “John Russell, a young man nicknamed Hombre by the Apaches who raised him, has a deadly confrontation with a determined gang of stagecoach robbers” (book description).  Leonard and Parker both write Mysteries and fast-paced, atmospheric and gritty Westerns with a darker mood.

Kelton, Elmer – Texas Standoff: a novel of the Texas Rangers. “Newly married Texas Ranger Andy Pickard and his new partner, Logan Daggett, investigate a series of murders and cattle thefts in central Texas, a task complicated by a gang of masked vigilantes and the appearance of a notorious gunman” (NoveList). Both Appaloosa and Texas Standoff are fast-paced and atmospheric with a strong sense of place that center around two lawmen partners.

Ally C.

The Hangman’s Daughter

October 12, 2011

Author: Oliver Potzsch

Title: The Hangman’s Daughter

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: Published in Germany in 2008. Translated into English by Lee Chadeayne in 2010.

Number of Pages: 435

Geographical Setting: Bavaria (Modern-day Germany)

Time Period: 17th Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In a small town in 17th century Bavaria, children are being murdered. Adding to the town’s panic, signs of witchcraft are found on each of the victims. With marauding soldiers left over from the Thirty Years’ War roaming the countryside and faced with the danger of famine or poverty from a bad crop year, the town council just wants this problem to go away. The town’s midwife, Martha Stechlin, is quickly arrested on suspicion of witchcraft and murder. Jakob Kuisl, as town executioner, is forced to torture Martha to make her confess to the murders. Jakob does not believe that Martha is either the murderer or a witch and finds himself with just days to find out who is really killing the children. With the help of his daughter, Magdalena and Simon, the town’s young doctor, who is also in love with Magdalena, Jakob, sets out on the dangerous mission of proving Martha’s innocence.

Subject Headings: Executioners, Witchcraft, Midwives, Bavaria, Thirty Years’ War

Appeal: Engrossing, Builds in intensity, Atmospheric, Dark, Suspenseful, Plot-driven, Well-drawn characters, Violent, Investigative, Historical details, Small-town, Well-researched

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Dark, Suspenseful, Historical details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1) The History of Torture by Daniel P. Mannix. Readers can learn all they want to know about this gruesome aspect of human history.

2) Witchcraft: A History (Dark Histories Series) by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart. This is a scholarly yet readable look at witchcraft from Roman times to the present.

3) The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648 (Essential Histories Series) by Richard Bonney. This book explains why the Thirty Years’ War was a turning point in the development of warfare and looks at the especially devastating effects of the war on civilians.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. Set in the twelfth century, this historical mystery is about a female medical student from Italy who comes to England to investigate the deaths of four children.

2) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Though written in a challenging literary style, this historical mystery set in a medieval Italian monastery would appeal to fans of The Hangman’s Daughter.

3) The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry. This is a stand-alone historical mystery set in 13th-century Constantinople at the beginning of a Crusade.

Name: Elizabeth Allen

The Lost Symbol

July 25, 2011

Author:  Dan Brown

Title:  The Lost Symbol

Genre:  Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  509

Geographical Setting:  Washington, D.C.

Time Period:  Present day

Series (If applicable):  Same main character (Robert Langdon) as his novels The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons

Plot Summary:  Robert Langdon is pulled into yet another quest for answers in Dan Brown’s latest novel.  This time set in Washington D.C., only Langdon has the knowledge to solve the latest hunt for one of the biggest secrets in American history.  Langdon and this new cast of friends, law enforcement, and enemies race through our nation’s capitol on a suspenseful quest to protect the Masons longest-kept and most precious secret.

Subject Headings:  Suspense fiction; Washington, D.C.; Freemasonry

Appeal:  Fast-paced, engrossing, austere, suspenseful, detailed characters, multiple points of view, series character, well-drawn characters, action-oriented, cinematic, layered, detailed setting, academic, complex, well-crafted, well-researched

3 terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, well-researched, suspenseful

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

–       Paul Naudon’s The Secret History of Freemasonry: Its Origins and Connection to the Knights Templar – for anyone interested in learning more about the history of the Freemasons that are discussed so much in this novel

–       Scott W. Berg’s Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington D.C. – discusses Pierre L’Enfant’s role in designing the architecture of Washington, D.C. as discussed in the novel

–       Robert Hieronimus & Laura Cortner’s Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal – for readers interested in learning more about America’s secret societies

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

–       Daniel Silva’s Portrait of a Spy – recently published suspense spy novel with a similar fast-paced, suspenseful, and intricately plotted story

–       Robert Ludlum’s The Icarus Agenda – a fast-paced, suspenseful spy story involving the government

–       Jonathan Rabb’s The Book of Q – suspense story centered around centuries-old secrets and conspiracies, similar to Brown’s stories

Name:  Julie Foote