Monthly Archives: May 2013

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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Filed under Chick Lit Fiction

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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Filed under Erotica, Paranormal Romance

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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Filed under Historical Fiction

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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Filed under Historical Fiction

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

Flint 1: Choosing Sides by Treasure Hernandez

flint1$5.99, 304 pages, Urban Fiction

Halleigh and Malek are teens amidst a world of gangs, drugs and crime in Flint, Michigan. 

Author Profile

Reviews:

Reviews on Google Books

Welcome to the streets of Flint, Michigan.  The beginning of this 7-part series is told through the eyes of young Halleigh and Malek.  Boyfriend and girlfriend with big plans for their future…including the NBA for Malek.  After Malek gets in trouble with the law when defending Halleigh after she is raped, the plans change.  Suddenly Halleigh must find a way to earn money to free Malek.  She naively turns to others for help and winds up working as a prostitute for a cunning pimp.  Malek is released from jail and is injured by gunfire during a street ball tournament.  His NBA career is over as scouts are no longer interested in the injured young man.  Their lives spin out of control and the stories continues in books 2-7.

This book was very easy to read and fast-paced.  The author uses street jargon and presents a gritty view of a life enveloped in drugs, sex, gangs and crime.  I do not feel compelled to read the other books in the series.  However, I am thankful I read this book as I am better able to relate to my inmate patrons who are looking for an urban or street fiction selection.

Appeal Factors: Action-Packed, Jargon-filled, Steamy, Gritty

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this author include: K’wan, Sister Souljah,  Deja King and Donald Goines (accessed May 4, 2013).

Working in a jail library, urban/street fiction is perhaps our most popular genre.  Having read only 2 previous selections in this genre, I wanted to know more about the Flint series.

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Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross

juvenile$29.95, 192 pages, Photography

A visual display of captioned photos showing young people incarcerated throughout America.

Author’sWebsite

Reviews:

NY Times

Write to Read Books Blog

This book features over 150 pictures of young people incarcerated in America.  For a variety of reasons and in cities across the country, these youth find themselves locked up.  Ross’ book of photography involved over 5 years of visiting youth facilities.  While there, he captured the images, interviewed the youth depicted and wrote a small bit about what led them to their present circumstances.

What a sad and sobering look at young people imprisoned and incarcerated.  For many, they have simply been abandoned and given up for the system to deal with.  For others, they are accused of serious crimes at such a young age.  As I turned the pages, looked through the pictures and read the captions, I could not help but wonder what horror these young people may have already experienced in their young lives.

Appeal Factors: Thought-Provoking, Disturbing, Moving, Visual

Read-alikes for this book include:  Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys by Victor Rios and Born, Not Raised: Voices from Juvenile Hall by Susan Madden Lankford

Recipient of American Library Association’s 2013 Alex Awards
Winner of the 2012 Best News and Documentary Photography Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors

CBS News Coverage

I selected this book after seeing it featured in a discussion board post in this class.  The post listed the 2013 Alex Award Winners selected by the American Library Association.  Working with medium and maximum security offenders in a correctional facility, I was especially interested in the book.

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Shadow Game by Christine Feehan

imagesCAXSCWV1 $7.99, 352 pages, Paranormal Romance

Lily and Ryland meet through a science experiment, share psychic abilities and fall in love.

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Red Hot Books Blog

Romantic Times Book Review

Ryland is a GhostWalker and possesses special abilities that make his participation in an ongoing scientific experiment heightened.  Lily’s father began the scientific research on Ryland and other men in various branches of the military.  And when Lily’s father is murdered, she is tasked with taking over his research while determining and finding her father’s killer.  All the while, the passionate energy and attraction between Lily and Ryland cannot be overlooked.  This book is the first of 10 in the GhostWalkers series by Christine Feehan.

Depending on your “heat level” for romances, Feehan’s GhostWalker series is a must-try for any romance reader.  The paranormal elements, including psychic abilities, only add to the allure as Lily and Ryland can read each other’s thoughts.  Working together, their relationship allows them to discover answers while experiencing mind blowing passion.

Appeal Factors: Fast-Paced, Romance, Paranormal

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include: Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz, Pandora’s Daughter by Iris Johansen and Raintree by Linda Jones (accessed May 4, 2013).

Awards: Nominated for the 2003 Romantic Times Award for Best Contemporary Paranormal, NY Times Bestseller List, USA Today Bestseller List

Discussion Questions:

1. Are you a fan of paranormal romance?

2. Would you read this author/genre again?

3.  Did you find Shadow Game to be too sexually explicit ? Do you think it was an important to the plot/story?

4. Is Lily and Ryland’s relationship based on love and mutual attraction or is it based on sexual attraction?

5. Do you think Lily’s character was indicative of her upbringing?

6. Did Lily’s father love her?  Did he know how to show/express love? If yes, how?

7. As he is dying, Dr. Peter Whitney reaches out to his daughter Lily and implores her to destroy his secret laboratory and his research. Do you think he was unaware how dangerous his research was? Did he maintain his laboratory and records as a source of pride or do you believe he truly wanted his daughter to learn about her history?

8. Do you think the Ghostwalker experiment is plausible?

9. Do you think psychic abilities are a reality?

10. Which paranormal/psychic ability would you choose and why?  A few examples to get you started: levitation, telepathy, dreamwalking and psychic abilities.

11. Where do you think the series goes from here (this is the first of ten books in the series)?

I selected this book due to the popularity of the paranormal romance genre.  I became familiar with Christine Feehan through the owner of a small bookstore.

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Filed under Mystery- Fiction