Posts Tagged ‘well-drawn’

Drinking at the Movies

April 18, 2012

Author: Julia Wertz

Title: Drinking at the Movies

Genre: Adult Graphic Novel, Biography

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 187

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Spring 2007 – New Year’s Eve 2008

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: Julia Wertz is a twenty-four year old comic-book artist. Bored with San Francisco she finds herself making a bold decision by moving to New York. Using illustrations and journal-like writing, Drinking at the Movies is chronicle of Julia’s coming-of-age in New York. In an informal and friendly tone, Julia shares the story of moving away from home, trying to hold on to low-paying jobs, and living in four different apartments. She acknowledges and illustrates the more serious parts of her life, like her brother’s drug addiction, family illnesses, and her own drinking problem with humor. Julia’s introspective look at her behavior and her youthful rebellious approach to life and search for identity make this graphic novel an amusing and quick read.

Subject Headings: New York, Cartoonist, Identity, Coming-of-Age,

Appeal: fast-paced, humorous, well-drawn, familiar, quirky characters, accessible, simple drawings, unpretentious, contemporary, do-it-yourself, linear story, attention to detail, informal, introspective, character-driven, first-person point of view, playful, artistic.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: humorous, fast-paced, simple drawings.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Life in a Jugular Vein by Ben Snakepit – Ben Snakepit writes autobiographical, humorous comic-strip style graphic novels. He records every day of his life in three frames, and gives each strip the a song of the day. Ben writes and draws about the monotony of his job, going on tour, trying to be a grown-up, punk rock, and drugs and alcohol. His characters are realistic and the language is accessible and simple.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince – Liz Prince writes an autobiographical graphic novel in a comic book style. She uses humor and illustrations to document her own coming-of-age and the relationship she is in.

Zinester’s Guide to NYC by Ayun Halliday – A zinester’s guide to New York City explores the area where Julia lived in and worked in. Similar to Julia’s Do-It-Yourself style, Zinester’s Guide to NYC is the work of over twenty people that have contributed to pages like “Pizza!” to give the reader an in-depth, real-life look at the city.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gingerbread Girl by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin – A coming of age story set in a city, Annah a twenty-somethings female in a big city is depicted in graphic novel format. Her friends, ex-boyfriends, and animals help to narrate her story for her in a witty attempt to find Annah’s identity.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – This humorous fiction graphic novel is a coming of age story about a man in his 20s. His girlfriend left him for New York, and he is left in Berkeley searching for his identity.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser – A linear story told with inserts of illustrated zines and letters, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing features a young man’s coming of age story. Fast-paced and humorous, the main character (Elliot) searches for meaning and his own identity in a punk house in D.C.

name: Jaymie


November 30, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic.

November 30, 2011

Author: Bechdel, Alison.

Title:  Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic. 

 Genre:  Autobiographical Graphic Novel; Nonfiction.

Publication Date: 2006

Number of pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, United States.

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In this autobiographical graphic novel, Alison Bechdel, an author of a long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, draws a darkly funny and emotionally complex picture of her childhood and her coming-out experiences. The central part of this graphic novel focuses on the author’s loving yet ambivalent relationship with his father—a small-town closeted homosexual, a teacher, a funeral-home owner, and an obsessive interior decorator.  The tone of the story ranges from outrageously funny, especially when describing her father’s obsession with house decor, flowers and fashion, to darkly disturbing, when recalling his inappropriate relationships with male students and the effect of his behavior on the author’s mother. The prose is simple, expressive and often filled with references to literary classics, and the art, with its traditional blue, black and white panels, integrates beautifully into a graphically and textually powerful tale of a family marked by love, sadness, repression but also redemption.  For any skeptics of graphic novels, Fun Home should be an example of this format’s potential for expression, beauty and literary value.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novels; Memoir; Coming-Out-Story; Sexual Orientations; Family and Relationships; 1960’s Small Town–Pennsylvania.

Appeal: heartbreaking, darkly funny, thought-provoking, engaging, literary, disturbing, poignant, character-driven, reflective, psychologically complex, moving, witty, uneasy, well-drawn, candid, sympathetic, sexually explicit, family-centered, small-town setting.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: heartbreaking, witty, and literary.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: A compelling and darkly funny tale of an Iranian girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Similarly to Fun Home, it is an autobiographical, character-driven, and textually and visually powerful graphic novel.

2) Epileptic by David B: In this moving graphic novel, the author describes his real-life experiences of growing up with an epileptic brother and how it affected his decision to become a cartoonist.

3) Blankets: an Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson: An autobiographical graphic novel about brothers growing up in a strict, evangelical family and struggling with rivalry, love and doubt.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: the Beauty Supply District by Ben Katchor.  A collection of witty, nostalgic and character-driven graphic strips picturing the experience of Julius Knipl, a real estate photographer, and other mid-century Jewish characters.

2) The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger: A graphic story of a woman who enters a bookmobile that contains every book she has ever read. Like Bechdel’s story, it is character-driven, literary, reflective and stylistically complex

3) Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine:  This graphic novels tells a story of Ben Tanaka, a not entirely sympathetic, twenty-something American-Japanese, searching for his identity and a place in the world by testing sexual, cultural, philosophical and political waters of the contemporary America.

Megan Rosol

“I Heard You Paint Houses”: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa

November 16, 2011

Author: Charles Brandy

Title: “I Heard You Paint Houses”: Frank “The Irishman”
Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of
Jimmy Hoffa

Genre: Non-Fiction; True-Crime

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 309

Geographical Setting: USA

Time Period: 1930s-2000s

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  A first-person narrative of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s life.  The story is composed from passages of Sheeran’s
own words while author Charles Brandt provides the  background story.  Sheeran’s issues begin as a young boy who is
encouraged by his father to start bar fights for beer money.  The story follows Sheeran through his 411
days of active duty during World War II where he claims on the orders of higher
ranking officers he learned how to conduct private executions of German
prisoners and follow orders effectively.
Once returning to America Sheeran began working as a hustler and  as a hitman for notorious crime boss Russell
Bufalino.   Sheeran provides information
on mob relations, notorious mob hits, and even the Kennedy assassination.  The most interesting part of this book is
Sheeran’s relationship with Jimmy Hoffa.
Sheeran is introduced to Hoffa by Bufalino and this is where the phrase,
“I heard you paint houses” originates.
Sheeran would not only become Jimmy Hoffa’s muscle but close personal
friend.  Through Sheeran’s own words this
book brings to light to the details surrounding the mysterious end of Jimmy
Hoffa’s life.

Headings: Hoffa Jimmy 1913-1975?, Sheeran Frank, International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, Gangsters, Mafia.

Appeal: compelling, easy, fast-paced, chilling,
candid, menacing atmosphere, hard-edged, psychological, well-drawn, flawed,
character-centered, explicitly violent, flashbacks, political.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-centered,
explicitly violent, flashbacks.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Westies: Inside New
York’s Irish Mob
, by T.J. English.  The story of a notorious New York West Side
gang who specialize in a dismemberment execution style that was feared among
the toughest factions of the mob.

 Mob Killer: The Bloody Rampage
of Charles Carneglia, Mafia Hit Man
, by Anthony DeStefano.  This book is a look into the mind of Charles
Carneglia who was associated with John Gotti.
The book covers much of the mob’s history and address famous mob
personalities such as those from the
movie Goodfellas.

JFK and the Unspeakable:
Why He Died and Why it Matters
, by James Douglass.  Similarly to Jimmy Hoffa the truth behind the
assassination of President Kennedy has always been open to question and filled
with various conspiracy theories.  This
book presents the view that it was not the mob but rather the military and
intelligence agencies in the United States that were behind the assassination of

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

For Nothing, by Nicholas Denmon.
This fast paced thriller is about an undercover cop who goes deep in an
organized crime family to seek out the assassin that killed his friend.

Who is Lou Sciortino?: A
Novel About Murder, the Movies, and Mafia Family Values,
by Ottavio Cappellani.
A fictional violent mafia comedy that is often compared to the
television show the Sopranos.  The story
takes place in New York City and Sicily.

Cut Throat Mafia, by Derrick Johnson.
A story about a mafia family in Cleveland Ohio that was on top as far as
mob activity goes until they started to slip with the introduction of other
mafia families.  The family finds
themselves doing all they can to survive against other families with similar “cut
throat” tactics.

Name: Bill P.

Fun Home: A Fmaily Tragicomic

August 10, 2011

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, GLBTQ

Publication Date: June 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period: 1960s and 70s

Plot Summary: Alison Bechdel has an interesting childhood to say the least.  Her father is restoring their Victorian style house where it seems as though they are living in a museum rather than family home.  The children also help in their family owned funeral home.  Alison grew up a tomboy, always fighting her father’s request that she wear a dress and barrette.  When she left for college she discovered her own sexuality and after coming out to her parents, she learned about her father’s as well.

Subject Headings: Death, GLBTQ, Father and Daughter, Funeral Home

Appeal: moving, character-driven, dark, well-drawn, complex, engaging, literary references, sexually explicit, inspirational

3 terms that best describe this book: compelling, witty, poignant

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Stitches by David Small

This graphic autobiography recounts Small’s troubled childhood with a tormented mother and a father who subjected him to repeated x-rays.  He escaped his problems through drawing.  Similar to Fun Home, Small also had a rough childhood with reluctant parenting. (graphic novel, bleak, moving)

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Burroughs is forced to live with his mother’s psychiatrist in his disturbing childhood, while his mother goes off and questions her sexuality.  His new family is curious at best as the children are left in charge of themselves for the most part.  Readers of Fun Home will see the similar troubling childhoods, but witty dialogue. (disturbing, funny, reflective)

Epileptic by David B.

B’s older brother was diagnosed with Epilepsy early on in his life and this graphic memoir details the story of how it affected his family, and the early roots of his cartoonist career.  Readers of Fun Home will enjoy this graphic novel about the family relationships in this coming of age autobiography. (graphic novel, moving, poignant)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking By Aoibheann Sweeney

Miranda’s mother has abandoned her and her father is an elusive scholar.  She is sent to live with her father’s friends and is marked by her loneliness and a vivid fantasy.  Similar to Fun Home, the main character struggles with a neglectful family. (moving, complex, lyrical)

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Enid and Rebecca are teenage friends dealing with the adverse prospect of adulthood and the future or their complicated relationship after graduating high school.  Readers of Fun Home will like the dark tone and focus on relationships in this novel. (graphic novel, darkly humorous, character-driven)

Martin Bauman: Or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt

Martin,an insecure, gay newly college student, meets many young literary types on his quest to become a published writer and open about his sexuality.  Readers of Fun Home will like the witty style and literary story of another character who is unsure of his sexuality. (witty, moody, character-driven)

Name: Christina Freitag

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson

April 14, 2011

Kabul Beauty School Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Author: Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson performed by Bernadette Dunne

Title: Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: (Duration) 8:59:30

Geographical Setting: Kabul, Afghanistan; Michigan

Time Period: 21st century

Plot Summary: In a truly compelling narrative, Deborah Rodriguez recounts her experience running a beauty school in Kabul, Afghanistan. In explaining how she came to arrive in Kabul, Rodriguez describes her life up until then. There were the years as a hairdresser, there was the time she bought a boat and hosted parties for people she barely knew, there was the time she was employed as a corrections officer, and there was the time she revisited her faith and married a preacher. It is the unhappy marriage to the preacher that motivates Rodriguez to travel, and it is her desire to do something meaningful that leads her to attend terrorist disaster-relief training in Chicago just three weeks prior to 9/11. In no time, Rodriguez is in Kabul with a humanitarian organization and finds her hairdressing skills are in great demand. After much negotiation the Kabul Beauty School is up and running. The students of the beauty school are carefully drawn, their stories equally inspiring and heart-wrenching. The plight of women in Afghanistan during and after Taliban rule is well-illustrated through Rodriguez’s Western eyes, explaining cultural differences one only learns over time and with many questions. An incredibly immersive story that brings vivid life to an unfamiliar but oft-discussed country on the other side of the globe.

Subject Headings: Women — Afghanistan — Kabul — Social life and customs — 21st century; Muslim women — Afghanistan — Kabul — Social conditions — 21st century; Kabul Beauty School; Beauty shops — Social aspects — Afghanistan — Kabul; Kabul (Afghanistan) — Social life and customs — 21st century.

Appeal: compelling, measured, relaxed, bittersweet, compassionate, contemplative, haunting, humorous, impassioned, moving, poignant, well-drawn

3 terms that best describe this book: culturally immersive; thought-provoking; inspiring

Similar Authors and Works:
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (war-torn Afghanistan, inspiration, inequality).
Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron (travel writing, Silk Road, Afghanistan, Eastern culture).
The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah (travel writing, Afghanistan, cultural identity).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately (character-driven, Afghanistan, moving, lyrical).
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (historical fiction, psychological fiction, Paris, Holocaust survivor).
Peony in Love by Lisa See (historical fiction, love stories, 17th century China).

Name: Sasha Neri

Gideon’s Sword by Preston & Child

April 13, 2011

Author: Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln

Title: Gideon’s Sword

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Discs: 9 CDs, 10 Hours.

Geographical Setting: United States and various European countries

Time Period: 1980s to Present

Series: Gideon Crew, Book 1

Plot Summary: Gideon Crew, computer technology genius and all-around thief, spends his entire development undertaking the challenge of vindicating his deceased father from the shame of a crime he did not commit. Having succeeded eventually, after many years of study with the sole purpose of acquitting his father, Gideon looks forward to a normal life at long last. Unfortunately for him, a man named Manuel Garza literally steals him away and introduces him to someone who can pay him $100,000 to perform one task. The problem, as with many undercover activities, is that obstacles immediately jump in Gideon’s path, launching the listener into a fast-paced race against the clock, to prevent the shift of power among world nations.

The reader, Broadway actor and television star John Glover, highlights the sense of urgency in the book. His even-toned voice often leaves the listener hanging on by a thread, and in constant suspense.

Subject Headings: Children of murder victims, Fiction; Revenge, Fiction; Suspense fiction; Secrets; Murder witnesses; Fathers – death; Wrongful death.

Appeal: Engrossing, engaging, intriguing, multiple points of view, well-drawn, action-oriented, character-centered, investigative, linear, details of computer science and physics, political, dangerous, smart, unusual, witty.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Plot-centered, vivid, contemporary.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Lee Child’s The Hard Way: Suspenseful, plot-centered, and fast-paced; a series read-a-like as well with a similar focus on revenge.

Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Fate: Suspenseful, plot-driven, and richly detailed; a legal thriller with government conspiracy.

Robin Cook’s Foreign Body: Suspenseful, plot-driven, and dramatic; a medical thriller dealing with unexplained deaths, also a series.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag: Intriguing, meticulously researched, and exhilarating; a biography of German WWII spy Eddie Chapman.

Alan S. Cowell’s The Terminal Spy: Investigative, mysterious, questioning; an investigation of the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

V. V. Schmidt’s The Physics of Superconductors: Meticulously researched, lecture, phenomenal; a lecture based text examining the nature of superconductors.

Annotation by Carlen

The Shining by Stephen King

April 13, 2011 Stephen King

Title: The Shining

Genre: Horror, Gothic

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages/CDs: 447 pages / 14 CDs (16 hours – Read by Campbell Scott)

Geographical Setting: Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Time Period: Present-day 1970s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jack Torrence accepts a position as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel set high in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  Wendy and Danny, his wife and son accompany him on the months long job.  The family sees the opportunity to reconnect and rebuild their troubled past as a family, and Jack hopes to use the time to overcome his struggle with alcohol and anger and focus his energy on his play writing.  While Danny has premonitions that spending the long winter in this hotel is his worst nightmare, what he does not know is that his visions are only a small snippet of the true terrorizing force that has wreaked havoc at the hotel.  As they become ever more isolated by the harsh winter conditions, Jack’s mental condition deteriorates and he begins hallucinating.  Wendy and Danny become more and more scared and paranoid that nothing is what it seems at the hotel, and even Jack is no longer trustworthy.  In the last third of the book, the story unfolds quickly and leaves you on the edge of your seat.  Campbell Scott reads this books with an intensity that embodies the terror of the Overlook Hotel.

Subject Headings: boy psychics, alcoholics, caretakers, family relationships, haunted hotels, resorts, supernatural, telepathy, violence in men, winter, Colorado, Rocky Mountains, murder.

Appeal: character-driven, fast-paced, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, suspenseful, compelling, detailed, builds in intensity, ominous, claustrophobic, unsettling, well-drawn, flawed, violent, strong language, detailed setting, isolated, descriptive, scary.

3 Terms that best describe this book: menacing, isolated, descriptive

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Dark Sacrament:  True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely – haunted houses, true case stories of demon possession, exorcism, detailed historical analyses, good and evil, demons.

The ESP Enigma:  the Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena by Diane Hennacy Powell – science writing, attempts to scientifically explain psychic abilities, extrasensory perception, paranormal phenomena, psychic ability, psychokinesis, accessible.

Spook:  Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach – science writing, accessible, engaging, witty, funny, life after death, paranormal phenomena, soul, using science to understand the paranormal.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Passage by Justin Cronin – horror story, character-driven, suspenseful, menacing, bleak, compelling, good and evil, survival, violence.

The Ruins by Scott Smith – horror story, suspenseful, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, violent, compelling, isolation, brothers, survival.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – horror and gothic fiction, character-driven, atmospheric, creepy, moody, classic horror story, isolated location, supernatural, good and evil.

Name: Jeannine Kropski

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

April 13, 2011

The Wordy Shipmates

Author: Sarah Vowell

Title: The Wordy Shipmates

Genre: Non-Fiction Audiobook / History

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages/CDs: 6 discs (7 hours)

Geographical Setting: New England

Time Period: 17th Century

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: Frequent NPR contributor Sarah Vowell leads the reader through the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by English Puritans and how those settlers views and actions color American politics to this day. While the Pilgrims continue to be celebrated yearly, this slightly-later group of settlers are unfamiliar to most. Vowell recognizes that many Americans learn history via pop culture, herself included, and uses popular points of reference and her own experiences to keep the narrative moving along and palatable to those who might otherwise shun a straightforward historical account.

Subject Headings: American history, Puritans, 17th Century, Religion, Politics, Boston, New England, Rhode Island

Appeal: Compelling, candid, contemplative, humorous, thoughtful, detailed, engaging, vivid, well-drawn, complex, issue-oriented, layered, resolved ending, thought-provoking, accurate, details of early America, historical details, political, accessible, chatty, informative, natural, smart, unpretentious, well-crafted, well-researched, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: informative, accessible, witty

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.

Accessibly written look at how humans cope in space (without air, gravity, showers or beer). Seemingly academic subject, thoroughly researched, but shared in humorous, readable language with personal anecdotes.

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Dr. Guy Deutscher.

An exploration of the idea that language shapes cultures and influences the thoughts of its speakers, concepts often avoided by linguists. Intellectual discovery shared in an enjoyable manner and illustrative of how societies can be continually influenced by the past.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.

Witty and engaging, if sometimes rambling, Bryson delivers history via the elements of a home. Popular narrative nonfiction that seeks to both educate and entertain.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.

Rich characters and witty writing combine to make depressing, weighty topics a fun read. (Sarah Vowell has written the introduction to another Hornby book, so she’s clearly a fan, too.)

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.

Comedy delivered with a droll voice, and most readers will come away having learned a bit about the art world, to boot.

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.

A classic humor collection which revels in clever turns of phrase and expert comic timing. While somewhat analogous to TV sitcoms, this 1925 book continues to attract fans of intelligent wit.

Name: Genevieve Grove

The Kitchen God’s Wife

June 14, 2010

Author:  Tan, Amy

TitleThe Kitchen God’s Wife

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages:  415

Geographical Setting: China and California

Time Period: Present Day to 1940s China

Series:  No

Plot Summary:  Winnie, a first generation immigrant from China and her American-born daughter, Pearl, are both bearing hardships they are keeping from each other. Each is unsure of how their heartbreaking revelations will affect the other.  Encouraged be a fellow émigré, Winnie gradually reveals her secrets about her life in China circa World War II as well as her struggle to build a new life in America. Winnie’s new insights help Pearl gain more of an understanding of her mother’s behavior.  This book is an immigrant story of survival as well as a timeless tale of the hopes, dreams, and generational misapprehension of mother-daughter relationships.

Subject Headings:  Mother and daughter, Chinese-American women, Women multiple sclerosis patients

Appeal:  contemplative, earnest, humorous, philosophical, poignant, sympathetic, well-drawn, character-centered, family-centered, tragic, historical details, colorful, well-crafted, layered

3 terms that best describe the book: truthful, humorous, moving

3 relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors

Beyond the Narrow Gate:  The Journey of Four Chinese Women from the Middle Kingdom to Middle America by Leslie Chang

This book explores four Chinese women’s journeys to America, fleeing the Communist Red Army in the late 1940s.  One of the women is the author, Leslie Chang’s mother.

Remaking Chinese America:  Immigration, Family, and Community, 1940-1965 by Xiaojian  Zhao

Prior to 1940, the immigrant Chinese population in America was male.  However, like Winnie, between 1940 and 1965 the émigrés were women.  As a result Chinese Americans became more family-centered and involved in networking to gain equal rights in society.

The Woman Warrior:  Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

Like Pearl, the author is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and she grew up in California.  Kingston compares her upbringing and lifestyle to that of her mother’s, where women had to be clever in a culture that subjugated them to submissive roles.

3 relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

Like The Kitchen God’s Wife, this book is about the immigrant experience across generations as well as the family connections that both complicate and make life worthwhile.  Cisneros blends heartfelt moments and humor, in the same manner as Amy Tan.

Who’s Irish: Stories by Gish Jen

The narrator of the story is an older Chinese woman whose assimilated daughter has married into an Irish family.  Like Wife, one of the themes is the tension between mothers and daughters, especially when the immigrant mother feels her daughter has strayed too far from her Chinese cultural identity.

Hunger: A Novella and Stories Lan  Samantha Chang

These stories are about the lost loves of immigrant families and how such disappointments and hopes have fundamentally altered Chinese American lives forever because of a connection with a new culture.

Rosemary Sullivan