Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex by Olivia Judson

drtatiana $17.00, 320 pages, Biology/Zoology

About the Author

Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

Olivia Judson uses a unique approach to present the scientific research and mating habits of various species and insects in the animal kingdom.  Using an evolution-based approach and Darwinian theory, Judson begins each chapter and section with a “Dear Abby” style of letter writing.  The writer is asking Dr. Tatiana for advice of a sexual nature.  The good doctor’s response comes in the form of ample description, research and detail about the sexual uniqueness in a variety of animals.

I loved the humorous approach to often delicate sexual subjects. Through the unique writing and clever use of humor, Olivia Judson presents a tremendous amount of scientific research and information.  While the detail is often too intricate and borders on excessive, the variety and breadth of knowledge that is covered is quite fascinating.

Appeal Factors: Issue-Oriented, Witty, Bawdy

According to Amazon.com, read-alikes for this book include:  Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, Sexual Selections by Marlene Zuk and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley (accessed May 10, 2013).

Excerpt from NPR

I chose this book because it was selected as a book discussion group for my Readers’ Advisory class.  This required reading was chosen as a popular nonfiction title.

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Miss Julia’s School of Beauty by Ann B. Ross

missjulia$15.00, 320 pages, Chick Lit Fiction

Miss Julia is newly married and helping to coordinate the town’s local beauty pageant. 

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Rated Reads

Powell’s Books

Miss Julia has just run off and married Sam Murdoch….or has she?  While Sam tries to assure Julia their marriage ceremony was indeed solemnized by an actual minister, she is kept busy planning the town’s first beauty pageant.  Hazel Marie has requested Miss Julia’s help in working with the contestants as they hope to raise money for the local Sheriff’s Department.

I appreciated the small-town charm that this book evoked.  The plot was refreshingly light and the characters likeable and quirky.  The humor abounded and I found myself chuckling through several silly scenes.  If you are looking for a book with no offensive content and a fun cast of characters, this book is for you.

Appeal Factors: Character-Driven, Homespun, Mystery

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include: Bingo by Rita Mae Brown, If Morning Never Comes by Anne Tyler and Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella (accessed May 4, 2013).

Having read another in the Miss Julia series of books, I knew this would be light-hearted and fun story.  I was not disappointed in the characters and storyline.

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Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker

guilty$12.99, 232 pages, Erotic and Paranormal Romance

Coby’s wife passes away and tries to arrange a new romance for him from beyond.

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Wild On Books

Fallen Angel Reviews

When Alyssa passes away, she leaves behind her husband Coby and best friend, Bree.  From the afterlife, Alyssa works to ensure these two would begin a relationship and fall in love.  After denying their feelings and emotions, the two cannot deny Alyssa’s plan any longer and fall in love.

Having read very little in the erotica genre, I failed to find this book very romantic.  The entire plot was spent in anticipation of sexual encounters and the storyline did little to keep me interested.  In all honesty, I found myself rather bored and the plot was incredibly far-fetched, as well.

Appeal Factors: Steamy, Bittersweet, Paranormal Romance

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this author include:  Christine Feehan, Kelley Armstrong, Christine Warren and Emma Holly(accessed May 4, 2013).

I attended a workshop titled “More Than 50 Shades: Erotic Fiction in the Library” at a fall library conference.  Ellora’s Cave was one of the publishers featured during this discussion.  I decided to try one of their publications for the erotic romance genre.

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Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

hopless $15.00, 416 pages, Romance

As two people begin a relationship, their past raises questions, lies and eventually…answers. 

Author’s Blog

Reviews:

Examiner

This is a romantic story about two highschoolers….and yet, it is not a young adult book.  Written as a romance for adults, Colleen Hoover captures a myriad of issues in the story of Sky and Dean.  Glimpses of the past are smattered throughout this love story as Dean keeps a powerful secret from Sky.  As their friendship and relationship develops, Sky begins to question everything around her.  A road trip for the two young lovers leads to answers….and even more questions.  A story that leaves you questioning if hope is really an option for Sky or if she truly is Hopeless.

An easy-to-read title, the story was endearing and heartwarming.  I loved the characters of Sky and Dean and was captivated as their story unfolded.  Knowing something was not right with Sky’s story, I was left guessing the darkness of her childhood.  The romance was a tad cheesy, in my opinion.  And yet, I could not help but wonder the damage that was inflicted upon Sky and the impact it might have on her ability to openly love another.

Appeal Factors: Character-Driven, Compelling, Romantic

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this author include: William Wharton, Hyatt Bass, Katherine Min and Susanna Kaysen (accessed May 4, 2013).

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Discussion Questions

I chose this book after noticing one of my friends on Facebook discussing it with some of her other friends.  I also noted the book’s popularity on Amazon.com under the Kindle sales.

Interesting to note: this book is an example of the power of self-published authors and digital sales.  Hopeless catapulted to success as a digital title and was only recently published into an actual book.

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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

balzac$13.95, 184 pages, Historical Fiction

Two teen boys fall for the same young woman while working in a small Chinese village.

Author Profile

Reviews:

NY Times

Powell’s Books

Could you fathom a world in which reading books or learning something new is not only discouraged but punishable, as well?  Welcome to the period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s to early 1970s.  During this time, two young city boys were sent to work in a small village.  Luo and Ma are those young men and they were forced to endure hard labor for a period of three years.  All the while, the two boys independently fall in love with a local girl, the Little Seamstress.  Part romance, part adventure and part mystery, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a semi-autobiographical book written by Dai Sijie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and only wished it were longer.   The characters are richly developed and the story is an intriguing tale.  I found myself rooting for the young boys in their pursuit of reading.  The book is guaranteed to make you think differently about how fortunate we are with the availability of reading materials at local libraries or bookstores

Appeal Factors: Character-Driven, Dramatic, Romance, Cultural

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (accessed May 4, 2013).

Library Journal Best Books of the Year 2001

Reading Group Guide and Discussion Questions

This book was recommended by a former supervisor.  The shoes on the cover always caught my attention as I distributed the book to patrons and I was curious as to the semi-autobiographical story.

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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

12tribes$24.95, 256 pages, Historical Fiction

The story of Hattie Shepherd as told through the voices of her children and grandchild, her twelve tribes.

Author’s Website

Reviews:

NY Times

Journal Gazette & Times Courier Review

This book is the story of young Hattie Shepherd, who moved from Georgia to the city of Philadelphia in search of hope and possibility.  The chapters alter voices and are told from the perspective of her eleven children and one grandchild, hence the title.  The stories often intersect and portray the immense difficulties Hattie faces as she endures a difficult marriage, poverty and the loss of her first two children.  As her children make choices in life concerning their futures, loved ones and their own children, the result is a book that is sometimes heartwarming and sometimes heartwrenching.

I will admit that there were portions of this book that absolutely tugged at my heart.  Told in the changing voices of the offspring of Hattie Shepherd, I loved the variety and change in perspective.  A few of the characters I found harder to follow, however, I would recommend the book to others.  The glimpses of life through Hattie’s children were often disturbing, challenging and difficult to endure.

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, Moving, Heartwrenching

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include:  Jazz by Toni Morrison, Cane River by Lalita Tademy and Long Distance Life by Martia Golden. (accessed May 4, 2013).

Oprah 2.0 Book Club Selection

Book Discussion Questions

After seeing this book for sale in numerous bookstores, I decided to see what the storyline was all about.  An Oprah book club fan (her earlier picks), I was also curious to see what the “new” Oprah 2.0 book club involved.

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Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

untitled$25.99, 400 pages, Psychological Suspense Fiction

A tale of temptation and its power to challenge a strong marriage.

Author Profile

Reviews:

NY Daily News

USA Today

Just when Harry had it all with his lovely wife, family, career and opportunities…along comes Claire.  Initially a friend of the family, the friendship between Claire and Henry becomes so much more.  And, the result is at the crux of this story from first-time author, Charles Dubow.

This book surprised me and I really enjoyed the suspenseful nature.  What I thought was going to be a steamy romance based on the initial description turned into a story that really challenges what is  important in life.

Appeal Factors: Issue-Oriented, Steamy, Suspenseful

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include:  Andorra by Peter Cameron, Falling Man by Don DeLillo and The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve (accessed May 4, 2013).

Book Discussion Questions

I saw a review of this book in a popular entertainment weekly magazine.  The plot sounded fascinating and the review was quite favorable.

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Filed under Psychological Suspense Fiction